Hoof Prints

Having experimented recently with painting from mud, soils and ash, I wanted to try making marks which involved walking, and I came up with the idea of attaching paper to the soles of my shoes, hoping that it would capture some traces and impressions of my walk.

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I used an old pair of sandals with thick soles, and found a pack of Khadi paper, and set about fixing it to the shoes using drawing pins.

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It seemed like perfect weather to try this, wet and rainy, so there would be plenty of mud I reckoned. I drove to Birnam, and headed up the Inchewan path, one of my favourite places to walk.

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I took a few photos of the rain on the delicate foliage on the way up…

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The wall on the way up the path is like a mossy carpet…in fact the whole walk is probably the mossiest I have every been on.

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Delicate young ferns covered in raindrops

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     A really wet, lush, green environment…with the sound of a fast flowing stream and lots of very fresh air…just beautiful

I walked up the path until I reached a decent patch of mud, and proceeded to swap my crocs for the paper-soled sandals, which I wore to squelch through very wet mud.

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My first attempt was a bit over zealous…I completely ruined the paper, tearing a big hole into it, and realised that I had walked too far for the paper to survive. My next attempt was a bit better, the paper had a slight rip in it, but was still useable. Some of the mud that I stepped in was so wet that the prints showed very little colour, although the patterns on the soles of my sandal created a nice embossing on the paper. I also tried walking over moss a few times, but it barely showed, instead I seemed to gather fragments of leaves and bark.

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A few walkers passed me on route, stopping to watch what I was doing. I felt like I was doing a performance, and realised that I should have “killed two birds with one stone”.

Further up the path, there was slate from the nearby hill which had slid down and was lying in piles in reddish looking puddles. The soil here seemed different, in colour certainly, and this might have something to do with the minerals I am guessing.  The soil here printed a very different colour, a light red/brown, and I felt excited about the contrast that this would give against the previous prints.

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A strong result…and a much lighter, redder soil

I also walked down toward the stream, where the terrain was gravel and sand, and this also gave a similar red/brown colour.

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As I changed the papers on my shoes, the removed papers were left at the side of the path, to be collected on my way down. I met a few walkers on the way, and told them that the papers weren’t litter, just incase they felt it their duty to remove them.

I made my way down the hill, and luckily all of the prints were still where I left them. On my walk back to the car, I came across some fallen tree trunks, and noticed the same black, wiry fibres I had seen growing inside a piece of bark a few months ago. I stopped to peel a few from the trunk, sure that I might be able to use them for something interesting.

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Interesting string-like fibres attached to the fallen bark of a tree…what I now know to be rhizomorphs of Armillaria, a type of fungus.

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I’m already seeing mapping possibilities in this amazing natural fibre…

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I headed home to dry them (and myself) off, apprehensive to see the results of my walking/prints.

Once back in the studio, I used the hairdryer to dry the papers, and also removed some of the larger chunks of soil which has been stuck next to the drawing pins.

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Some of the marks are really quite beautiful, although they are a bit paler since they have dried. I am still considering how best to use these, although I have a feeling that they will end up as a book.

I’m also keen to try a few experiments with the Armillaria, and am especially excited by the fact that it might have bioluminescent qualities!

Water of Ruchil

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                                Solitary stravaiger

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Stepping back in time

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Helpless and uprooted

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Thirstily searching for Life

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Charred discarded memories

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Hide in empty vessels

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Bottled up Emotions

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Weeping with nostalgia

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Open eyes observing

IMG_1751Mossy melancholy

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Dark decaying circles

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Rings of life, and death

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Bearded branches bearing

islands

Overhanging islands

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Wizened witches fingers

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Slowly shedding skin

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The ancient paths where legions trod

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Adorned with hostile emblems

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Non-native invaders thriving

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Surviving futile floods

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Dryadic burrs lie twisted

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By shallow shifting sands

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Relics of rotten remains

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Receive a new awakening

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Gushing rapids foaming

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to the Wild Boar’s Pool

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Constant flowing waters

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Reflecting on times past

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Pierce the Veil of Sleep

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Sinister skeletal symbols

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Monuments to life

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Warped wefts of wisdom

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Frame palimpsestic paths

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Sacred standing stones

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Cover ritualistic remains

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Barbaric battlefields beckon

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Shackled and forbidden

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For those who draw the short straw

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Mortality confirmed

Walk in my Shoes

This project is borne out of my interest in walking and psychogeography, in particular the ways ways that we tread our paths through the countryside.  The idea behind this project is to encourage people to walk whilst paying attention to their immediate surroundings, in particular to look more carefully at the surface which they are walking on. This will be encouraged by lending out some footwear which would be usually deemed inappropriate to take walks in…Silk ballet pumps and glittering heels.

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Delicate pink satin ballet slippers

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Glittering Four inch stilettoes from Nine West

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IMG_2741Gold mesh sequinned and beaded pumps from Russell & Bromley

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Gold two inch stiletto sandals by made in Italy by Rhapisardi

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The performative element of this activity, Walking in my Shoes will alter the way the walker moves through the space of the landscape, adjusting their balance more by using their arms, balancing and tilting their bodies. 

It makes a bit of a statement around some of the snobbery associated with walking (yes, you heard me correctly!)… the knowing glances of those observing the name on the front of your wellie boot to the logo on the breast of your waterproof jacket, and the disapproving looks from those who are well-kitted out towards those who walk without caring about their apparel.

The participant will choose to walk anywhere they wish, for as long as they are able, wearing my shoes. The footwear will slow the walker down, causing them to place their feet strategically, avoiding hazards, but observing them more carefully.

Each participant will receive a shoe box with a pair of the shoes they must wear, a list of instructions and a small plastic bag.

As a starting point, they are required to have a photograph taken of themselves wearing the shoes at the start of their walk. Throughout the walk they are required to take further photos of their feet (wearing the shoes) on the terrain over which they are walking. They are also asked to take any photos of interesting sights they see or observations they make on their walk. A souvenir of their walk is also required, and they must collect an object on their walk which they think is interesting or memorable.

Finally, they will photograph the shoes in their destination – at the end of the walk.

They will be given a questionnaire to fill in about their experience, with space for them to draw a small map of the walk they took.

The results from all the walkers involved in this project will be collated and shared on a WordPress site and possible website too. The shoes, found objects, photographs and questionnaires/ map drawings will be displayed as part of the MA2 Assignment  Intersections and Articulations, and eventually the small maps will be used to produce a large abstract imaginary map as a culmination of the project.