#Thread and Word

An Artist Led Walk by Elspeth Penfold Sunday March 5th 2017

1.00p.m. – 3.00p.m.

Meet: Threads Exhibition, Espacio Gallery
159 Bethnal Green Rd. E2 7DG
Finish: Leadenhall Market

“It (art) consists not in showing the invisible, but rather showing the extent to which the invisibility of the visible is invisible.”
‘(In)Visible Spaces of Equality’, Annette Krauss

As a part of the Threads exhibition we will walk along a route that will take us from the gallery to Leadenhall Market past some of the artworks of Sculpture in the City, including the work of the Peruvian artist Lizi Sanchez, ‘Cadenetas’ .

We will use sited readings of Cecilia Vicuña’s poem Word and Thread. Through participatory interventions along the walk, we will openly and collaboratively celebrate the threads that bring us together.

image: Naya Eleftheriou , collage

With thanks to:

Jennifer Deakin- Artist Photography
Judy Dermott – Research, and writing: Women
Centred Modernism
Keith Grossmith- Poem, ‘The Word’s the Thread’
Virginia Fitch – Research and readings
Hazel Mountford- Research and reading
Julia Riddiough – Walking Mantra
Esperanza Gomez-Carrera – Performance Voices
Naya Eleftheriou – A Recital of Ithaca
Performance Voices
Helen Peacock – Performance What’s Left Behind
Jennifer Harkins – Research
Sheelah Mahalath Bewley – Research
Veronika Marsh – Performance The Journey
Allan Struthers – Performance ’Seen Not Heard:
The Choice of Listening to Objects’
Jill Rock – Performance ‘Sprang’

Elspeth will be offering all walkers the opportunity to record the experience of the walk through making knots in ropes which she will make for this walk .

“Wayfaring – threading our way through the tangled streets and spaces of London stopping to reflect with Threads and Words as we unravel knots at the sculptures on the way, rhyzomatic as we
meander from place to place free from linear fixities”
Jill Rock

A “Caligrama” of Cecilia Vicuña’s poem in Spanish. Designed following a circular walk from Espacio Gallery to Leadenhall Market.
by Esperanza Gómez-Carrera

If you wish to find out more about the walks and my art practice please visit

If you would like to take part in future walks please contact me, [email protected]


We walked last Friday from Dundas Street Gallery to Inverleith House, in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here a photo diary of readings and a task based intervention with rope by Naomi Garriock.

Ropes and knots are an important part of documenting the walks and Naomi created some interesting tasks to develop our knot making prowess.

I am still smiling from the experience and so amazed by the City of Edinburgh and all the wonderful artists and academics that help to create this walk. For more about the walk please visit:http://elspethpenfold.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/precario-1990-cecilia-vicuna-maximum.html


A Wander on Friday July 7th

from Dundas Street Gallery to Inverleith house Edinburgh
2pm – 4pm


An artist led walk by Elspeth Penfold inspired by Cecilia Vicuña’s poem ‘Hilo y Palabra’


Includes participative interventions by artists:

Nicola Weir,
Naomi Garriock
Elspeth Penfold
With further work contributed by

artist Julia Riddiough
Ecopoet, Jonathan Skinner
academic Judy Dermott.



And includes

A Yoga Mantra

Ribbons for unravelling

Poetry reading



Timed participative interventions with instructions


Ending at Inverleith House, where the poem was written


Currently closed for exhibitions


although ‘we still believe …….’ And sincerely hope it may open again.

Check out our Facebook page Thread and Word; https://www.facebook.com/ThreadandWord/

Free but ticketed: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/threadandword-tickets-34162936262?aff=ehomesaved




‘it is difficult to be responsible to an environment, if we have not first listened in to find out who is present’  J.E. Skinner.

Our research for the walk with #ThreadandWord, with its links to Cecilia Vucña’s poem Thread and Word and the associated installation Precario at Inverleithh House in 1970; as well as an unexpected introductory walk through the Bluebell woods in Coventry with Professor Jonathan Skinner, are already ensuring that we listen with our eyes.
Yesterday I received this from one of the artists collaborating on  the#ThreadandWord walk in Edinburgh on July 7th.

This is from Nicola Weir :

‘Inspired by nature and foraging, and loving the bluebells linking in ..have done some research, and discovered in ancient times they were used as a book binding glue, and starch for linen.. seems so appropriate to use this in what I am doing..so hope to try out, and hopefully use in some way with the stitching.
Luckily have lots of bluebells in our garden! I believe not meant to uproot in the wild.

So will update you on experiment..fingers crossed..’


For more about Nicola and her work :http://www.edinburghprintmakers.co.uk/artist/nicola-weir

I was so elated and delighted as I really felt that the process we are using, engaging with walking as research with sited readings, does lead us on a personal journey allowing us to respond and develop new work as a part of our artistic practice.

It brought to mind the following quote from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane:

The literature of wayfaring is long, existing as poems, songs, stories, treatises and route guides, maps, novels and essays. The compact between writing and walking is almost as old as literature – a walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells’

This text also finds its own echo in the poetry of Cecilia Vicuña:

‘La palabra es un hilo y el hilo es lenguaje.          (  Word is thread and thread is language.
Cuerpo no lineal.
Una linea asociándose a otras lineas.’                     Non linear body
(Cecilia Vicun1a, Palbra e Hilo )                               A line associated to other lines.)

This has found expression in Nicola’s work,

which she has described as follows:

‘Stitching small samples for the artist walk linking ‘Threads’ to Inverleith House – on pure linen and cotton muslin. light and tactile threads..natural forms linking to the connection with Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Artists Pool, https://www.theartistspool.co.uk linking artists & coming together at Dundas Street Gallery in July. Edinburgh Threads – art, poetry, place connecting.’

Weaving , pen words and paper by Elspeth Penfold

For more about this walk please visit our Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/ThreadandWord/?ref=bookmarks

and Eventbrite:

(although the walk is fully subscribed you can go on the waiting list and will be notified if a place becomes available)


As I think about the Edinburgh walk I am reflecting on this line from Larry Eigner:

“a poem can be like walking down a street and noticing things, extending itself without obscurity or too much effort”

Larry Eigner’s writing made me reflect on the fact that much of the work that takes place in my studio seems to centre around the walk as a process for researching, reading and making rather than on the poem and the words of the poem. There is a lot of work that is happening ‘without too much effort’ that relates in one way and another to the walk.

This is a drawing I made this week in an effort to try to make connections with the walking process, making knots and drawing.
As those of you who read my blog might be aware on my walks I make ropes by hand in my studio and ask participants who walk with me to make knots in ropes to document the experience.

The drawing is something I want to do more of and it has been reaffirmed by my reading of Confabulations by John Berger.This reading came about as I prepare for another related walk in august with The Walking with The Waste Land group and of course there are cross-overs or maybe,confabulations.

As I read,there is so much that is pertinent in Berger’s writing to what I am engaged with, Berger writes:

“During the last week I’ve been drawing, mostly flowers, motivated by a curiosity which has little to do with either botany or aesthetics…..Is it possible to ‘read’ natural appearances as texts?…It is a gestural exercise, whose aim is to respond to different rhythms and forms of energy, which I like to imagine as texts from a language that has not been given to us to read”

and so, I keep looking carefully at ropes and knots.