Walking Home formed the basis for my final major project for my MA. It worked over many ideas that I had developed during my degree – ideas around walking, performance, writing, and the performative installation.

Walking Home was a simple prospect; to walk from my current place of residence back to my place of birth in Switzerland.

But simple prospects are generally quite hard to achieve in reality.


Everything changed inside Switzerland really. I was joined in Schaffhausen by artists Ben Connors and Laura Wilson from London who were to travel with me for the final few days to St. Gallen. The walk in many ways ended with their arrival, it became something else, though there was one final leg of the journey that I completed on my own after their departure.

In short we took a boat down the Rhine from Schaffhausen to Konstance in Germany on the shores of the Bodensee and then took a short train ride round the lake into St. Gallen, arriving on the 6th of July. Upon our arrival to St. Gallen we instigated the first round of Performances now known as The St. Gallen School of Performance. The School is to reconvene on the streets of London in September 2009.


I sort of just walk over the border. I just walk in. Dissatisfied with the casualness of this I go back to the border and see if anyone wants to look at my passport. I point out the date and place of my birth but they do not need to stamp my passport anymore. The tranquility of the 21st century. I walk into Switzerland. The sky is bluer here, the water clearer, the fish in the water look happier, the farmers smile, the dogs dont bark, the shade seems cooler, the cherries more scarlet. And the hills, steeper. But for this thundery haze from this small peak I would be able to see the highest peaks in three countries. This glorious dappled light and these calm bees. I Walk down the hills under the shade of thunder clouds forks flash in my mind, too fast to see, I scuttle across the fields, aluminium strapped to my back. I walk into Schaffhausen, Switzerland. I sit down and I sit down and I sit down, And I sit.

Stuhlingen, Germnay, is literally on the border, its just the other end of town, I wake up late, casual, look round town a little, picking up pickles and trying to find a plug converter. There are little footpath signs that have in km the distance to places like Schleitheim, Hemmental, and Schaffhausen, they all have a little (CH) in brackets after them. Confederatio Helvetica. Switzerland. This is as exciting as it is surreal, and as it is normal. Im just going for a walk, just 20km or so, nothing too taxing, a hill in the way but really, I feel like a crow flying to whom borders are meaningless, a gesture that exists for maps and for language but matters little to rivers, or to trees, the air or the birds. Walking flattens nations, disempowers them. I just walk in. The border guards are busy talking to a man in a Jaguar and I just walk in. This is certainly unsatisfactory. I want someone to notice me for once, so I turn back and go and knock on the little door of the booth. They notice my place of birth and the date, I ask for a stamp in my passport but they don’t even have a stamp anymore, only airports or international trains they explain. Their English is excellent, they wish me a happy birthday and a good days walking. I make for the beginning of my route, the town of Schleitheim, then Hemmental, then Schaffhausen over the hill line. I follow the road for a couple of kilometres, breathing easliy, wave at a few farmers in a few fields, tending vineyards, it is hot, the sky is a crisp clear blue rising forever. The buildings have an air of age to them, the traditions of the place seep out of the very ground.

I had forgotten, really, that Swiss-German is an entirely seperate language.


I am tired of living with the insect kingdom. They are too efficient at eating blood, too omnipresent. One very nice shortbread jam cake thing, and a dutchman called Jacob who span a good line in anecdotes and spent several years saving baby jackdaws who had fallen from the church tower. For years after he could visit the tower and call down his Jackdaws. I want my own friend, maybe I will make a Jackdaw army. The weather becomes clockwork. A rush of sun til 12, a rumble of thunder by 1 and a full storm by 3. Bright sun again by 6. At 2 one day, 5 cows get killed by lightening. At 3 I reach a strange fort, a ruin in the forest, at 4 German and Swiss people play golf beneath a giant thunderstorm. This seems foolhardy, and by 5 I can see Switzerland for the first time in 22 years, fork lightening striking its distant hills.

Near the Feldburg 1459m asl

The weather spent the day being fairly threatening, I spent the day wondering how far I would get and where I would sleep, trying not to notice the no camping signs that could be found at the entrance to the Black Forest. The clouds rolled up and down the hills occasionally enveloping everything in a dense fug, the air was thick with bells resonating off the hills. A fancy 4 star hotel on the footpaths side hosts a car park filled with german, swiss and french vehicle, the way the countries in Europe seem to overlap at the corners, freely blending together, mixing people culture, flavours, flora and fauna. I take the wrong path at some point and doubel back after a few kilometres, the first moments of uneasiness above the rapidly moving cloudline. Still sunday walkers though, enough people for safe keeping.

Technically the peak of the Feldburg is somewhat out of the way for my route, just a few kilometres or so, and as I near it I conclude it really doesn’t look that exciting. Its one of those large bare nipples of a mountain, a rolling nobble, hard to define the actual peak. The Germans have also decorated it with heavy weather monitoring equipment, buildings painted like lighthouses, red and white stripes, satilite TV junkies, deep brick. Its getting quite late in the day and I sit down on a little well used perch, just off the path at the edge of a deep and sudden precipice. Swathes of dead trees mingle with the living down the valley and the ghost of Caspar David Freidrich is everywhere.


For the first time in ten years I swam in a swimming pool. A strange urge I confess. I saw a fork of ligtening and immediately remembered every fork of lightening I have ever seen, for they are very few. I walk the medieval streets and lose myself blissfuly among a dusty pile of vinyl.

I arrived in Freiburg long before I found the hostel I was planning to sleep in. The city is a spread out tram friendly, cyclist filled, country city often sited as one of the greenest cities in Germany, which makes it one of the greenest cities in europe; all passive housing, healthy outdoor lifestyles and allotments. It also means that its quite wide and the Youth Hostel ‘in’ Freiburg is pretty much out the other side of the city, alongide the wide plains of the river that ploughs the city, one of those shallow fast flowing mountain jobs, clear as crystal and icy cold. But its hot today, really hot and my pack aches at my shoudlers as I walk 7km across town, from one edge to other. The river runs through the heart of the city the highway running either side of it in a quirky set up. Trendy bars have gardens full of trendy healthy Germans, stretches of the river almost feel like East London, somehow.

I stay here for three days, sleeping mainly, occasional attempts at speaking German are made but they don’t really get very far. Its hard to muster the enthusiasm and energy to do it as I’m only in the country for a few days really. On the foolish front I don’t take any photographs at all, I buy a pair of vintage shoes for 15euros, on the basis that they would cost me about £50 in London, and then I find the towns record shop, late on a Saturday afternoon. The double LP I buy (a 1959 recording of a conference hosted by Yves Klein in Paris limited to 500 copies) has to accompany me for the next 90km until I reach Switzerland and an open post office.

I soak myself in the warm storm whilst cycling to the swimming pool. In this humidity I heal my blisters and sleep in a room with 20 other people, or barely sleep. I try and make notes but by now, by here, I am very detatched from this process, very tired of documenting it, I just want to do it for a while, without having to think how I will later account for every second. And so I probably miss some things, there is no documentation of my shirt, slick and dripping, or the bike I rode around on, no evidence of my attempts at speaking German, no documentation of the sense of panic when I struggled to find somewhere to convert my final travellers cheque into cash, no documentation of a conversation I had with an elderly lady in the forest the day I walked out of town


Across the Rhine, the border, no borders anymore, just McDonalds and Coca Cola. I climb through Vineyards in the heights above Oppfingen and lose myself in its veins. Wine runs everywhere down the hils and Germany is not pushed to signposts. I find Frieburg the other side of a forest and sleep there for three days, struggling to change my mind to German.

The mind stuttered and stumbled like my feet. German sounds so aggressive, the compound adjectives that stretch on for oh so many syllables, literally compunding the problems of pronunciation. The border was easy, decorated with McDonalds, Coca Cola and grapevines, French people buying boxes of cigarettes. streams of Harley Davidsons heading fof the Vosges and the soft cheeses. I followed a cycle path that followed the main road and I passed almost immediately the first of many allotments or Schrebergartens that Germany is somewhat famed for, maybe this fame was only really highlighted to me recently by Jeremy Dellars adventrues in Muenster, but they certainly are neat and well used, little flags poking up here and there, a swiss one a german one, one of the Schwarzwald area, or Baden-Baden. A pleasure. A little pond was nearby available for fishing but not for swimming, an impressive pedestrain bridge sweeps across the mainroad and Germany’s roadsigns are yellow, France’s were blue. Kilometres still though. The autobahn takes 24km to get to Frieburg from here, I plan to cut across the hills above Oppfingen and cut this distance a bit as I’ve already walked 10k this morning. I make for a village that may have been called Gundlingen and then pass down a track into a section of forest, just cutting east for the nearby hill line. Paths trace off to the left and right, I sit down for a spot of shade and listen to woodpeckers crack their way through the forest.

At the far edge of the forest a man emerges from the deep woods, I struggle to remember to say Guttentarg rather than Bonjour but he does not seem bothered about acknowledging my existence at all, a theme that will develop throughout Germany. I pass across some fields of maize to the main road that is gracefully small and follow it for a short way before trying my luck through the vineyards that cover the steep hill that protrudes before me. I sit beneath a cherry tree for a while before making this move through the vines that is definitely off any sort of path, the track I had followed deadended at this cherry tree, it became field edges by grapelines. Stepped into the hills. I climbed from one step of vines to another, deep terraces with ladders in the corners for the vinters to utilise. The pack on my back trying to drag me off the ladders. The little baby grapes looking so eager under the sun.