‘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 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 :

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, 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 :

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.


As we are preparing for the #ThreadandWord walk in Edinburgh, I was delighted to receive the following from one of our artist walkers.

Jill Rock

“thinking on Chile and my time there after watching Neruda the film today it did occur to me that in Threads and Words there is another story worth telling.

I think I mentioned on the city walk that I had been in touch with a friend of mine John Dugger whilst he was showing work at Raven Row.
John was Cecilia’s partner and co worker in Artists for Democracy.

Artists for democracy worked over many years with a simply defined ethos:



They also had 4 watchwords – art as participation – as labour – as information – as energy

when I was on a walker’s walk a few weeks ago on Dungeness I suggested to the group that they made a work whilst walking along using a barbecue rack I had found on the beach the day before on the condition that they worked as JAV

It did occur to me that it might be worth contacting Cecilia Vicuña and telling her what we are doing because it is very much in the spirit of Artists for Democracy especially with the Edinburgh connection.

Especially now as democracy seems to be eaten up by capitalism and far right politics which have little respect for it but callously use the word for their own ends.”