In addition to the drawing event in The Artistry House, I devised and led a series of group walking activities for The Big Draw and Preston Arts Festivals, in association with The Friends of Winckley Square. These creative walks meandered through Avenham and Miller Parks in the centre of Preston, during October 2019. A sequence of creative exercises took place at points along the way.
Walkers’ creative ‘kit': containing A5 notebook/sketchbook, pencil, graphite stick, wooden peg … and in this case, a horse chestnut seed. Other kits contained seeds from different trees.
Slowing down and getting into the right state of mind and body…
Making connections, drawing lines…
A collaborative creative writing exercise took place on the move: on the steps, around the grass circle, by the river, fountain and in the bandstand.
On each of the walks we made collaborative artworks, placed midway across the old railway bridge over the river Ribble, as material reminders of the benefits to mind and body of creativity and being fully present in the moment. Feeling more aware and in touch with our surroundings aids calmness and a sense of connection and balance and has been shown to improve mental health and physical wellbeing. Bringing awareness to the present moment can be especially helpful for those feeling weighed down by the past, or fearful of the future.
We made graphite drawings, rubbings and gestural interpretations of atmosphere, using templates provided, to aid composition. We compiled all the drawings using magnets on the side of the old iron bridge.
We interpreted the perpetually flowing river as a metaphor for time passing and the midway crossing point on the bridge, to signify our NOW moment: neither past or future.
On another occasion, we collected yellow as we moved through the park, sorted the colours into shifting autumnal shades to make a leaf circle. As an ancient symbol of holism and unity, our circle seemed both enduring and ephemeral.
Thank you to all the walkers for their active participation and creative generosity, and especially to Manda Johnson-Holme and Glennis Hulme for their encouragement, creativity and practical assistance.
Special thanks to Tony Lewis, Park Warden for Avenham and Miller Parks, for his support and creative input to The Big Draw walks.
Some touchstones in the development of these creative walks have been
Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) Klee’s highly individual art style was influenced by Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. He was a natural draftsman who also deeply explored colour theory. He taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. https://www.paulklee.net
Hannah Tuuliki is a Finnish/Scottish contemporary artist working in the landscape, with voice, drawing and gesture. https://www.hannatuulikki.org
Richard Long – one of Britain’s best-known land artists. http://www.richardlong.org
Nancy Holt (1938-2014) An american artist who pioneered a unique aesthetic of perception, as a key member of the Earth, Land and Conceptual art movements. http://www.nancyholt.com
Hamish Fulton – English artist who translates his walking into a variety of media. http://www.hamish-fulton.com
Andy Goldsworthy OBE is a British artist known for his site-specific installations involving natural materials and the passage of time. Andy studied art at Preston Polytechnic. Watch a recent film about his work here: https://www.leaningintothewind.com
C.G. Jung (1875 –1961) Swiss born founder of analytical psychology, Jung was also an artist, craftsman and builder as well as a prolific writer. He cited an intense period of art making as hugely influential in the development of his theories of the unconscious. Suggest his last book, an autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ as a starting point.
‘The Spell of the Sensuous. perception and language in a more-than-human-world.’ David Abram. Vintage Books. David Abram is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. https://wildethics.org
‘Presence’ is a leading British Haiku journal. www.haikupresence.org
Schumacher College is an internationally renowned learning community in Devon, offering ecology-centred masters programmes and short courses. https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk