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!

Roman Stone

Wanting to source an old OS map, and also find out any historic information about the site around the River Ruchil in Comrie, I visited the library in Perth and went to the reference and archives department.  I was directed to a very helpful lady who showed me some maps and photocopied a couple which were of interest to me. I was then advised to look at few websites, such as EDINA: Statistical Accounts of Scotland and Scotland’s Places (which has many OS maps in its digital archive). When I arrived home, I went straight to these websites, and found some fascinating info about the area around the Ruchil, as well as other interesting facts about the village of Comrie, where I lived since the age of three until I was in my mid-twenties. I found that a Roman General named Agricola had built a fort and a “Marching Camp” at Comrie, near the Ruchil, where he clashed with the army of the Caledonians, headed by Galgacus, in 79AD. Looking at the OS map, I found some areas marked where the Roman camp and Roman Fort had existed. There was also a standing stone adjacent to the camp, which was called the Roman Stone. As the area of the camp was quite a stretch, and the coordinates would have varied considerably between different areas, I decided to use the coordinates (WGS84) of the Roman Stone to make a piece of work. I had been thinking about making a piece which consisted solely of coordinates, and had toyed with perhaps using plants or other natural materials to make them. The fact that I was mapping a Roman Stone, gave me the idea of making a mosaic (in keeping with Roman tradition), using stone which I found nearby at the Ruchil. I also thought it would be more interesting to write the coordinates in Roman numerals so:

56 21′:65.46″N    3 59′: 06.17 W translated as:  LVI XXI LXV. XLVI N  III LIX  OVI. XVII  W

IMG_3700I collected some small peebles from the river’s edge in a bucket, and took them home to clean them. PREPARINGSTONES2Once washed, I used the barbecue and an old set of bellows to speed up the drying process.makingmosaic6I projected and traced the numerals onto a small canvas. Rather than using the the stones to fill the numerals, I decide to work into the negative space as this gives the numerals a recessed appearance as if they were carved or set into stone. It also leaves the numerals as empty space, signifying that the Romans are no longer there, just ghosts within the landscape.makingmosaic5A few hours later the mosaic was beginning to take shape. I stuck the stones down using PVA glue.makingmosaic2makingmosaic4

 makingmosaic3From this angle, the piece itself looks not unlike a road or track

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 The finished stonework…I preferred to spray the piece with a very thin coat of white to make it slightly more subtle and ghostlike.

whitemosaicdetail whitemosaicThe finished piece… I’m quite happy with the result, and I think conceptually it works as a site inspired piece, with the use of the Roman Numerals, and the mosaic technique using stone found near the site. Also the WGS84 coordinates tie in with the walking theme, as does the fact that there was a “marching” camp nearby.

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.

Inchewan Path

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Broken bark revealing

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Parasitic maps of life

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Sarked limbs avoiding the chill

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Behold the blanketed boughs

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Wooden veins descend their roots

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Shattered shards cascading

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Hooves that tread by nightfall

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Resting on the beech by day

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 Floating ephemeral hemisphere

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Rapid reflections descending

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Foaming spectres spirited away

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Trapped by the tip of the iceberg

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 Man’s endeavours softened by time

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Shrouding symbiosis

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Severed fingers pointing toward

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Pachydermal protrusion

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Striped antennae break the ice

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Arches to unknown dimensions

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Impressions on the beaten path

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Escaping frozen sunbeams

Shadow Walker – A journey through Scott’s Wood

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Shadow walker watching…

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Clouds float in calm blue waters

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Grasses puncture serenity

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Window to a parallel world

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Beckons us to enter

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Sunlight breaks the liminal veil

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Twisted arms reach skyward

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Gazing up to the unknown

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Unfortunate adornment

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Severed trunks await their fate

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Ironically consumed by growth

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Tangled veins extrude from earth

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Remnants of life and hazardous paths

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Exit shadow walker

 

Comrie: Memories and Melancholy

Happy childhood, fond memories ….a haunted Victorian house, dens in the woods, climbing trees, swimming in the river, walks through the woods with a beloved pet.

The float parade, the Hay ride, guising on Halloween, and the Flambeaux on Hogmany.

The Royal Bar…pulling pints, old village “worthies”,  the 5 o’clock club,  the regulars, the gossip…a daily soap opera… theme tunes echoing from the jukebox.

A persistant customer…flattery and pursuit…an addictive romance…fame and fortune.

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Japanese Knotweed… memories of our “jungle” in the woods

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The “Black Pool”…swimming in deep water…floating on homemade rafts…a rope swing over the pool.

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Uprooted…removed from whence they came…helpless and exposed…aged and decaying…awaiting the inevitable…

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Roots searching…dried and brittle…seeking nourishment…thirsty for life

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Campfire songs….sausages sizzling…fun and laughter…burnt to a cinder…

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Clearing across the river….strangers  drinking beer…fugitives enjoying… their last days of freedom

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A handsome stranger…an invitation….an erotic encounter….a deep and fast flowing river…now a trickling stream

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Christmas afternoon….snow and ice…walking with my father and brother…snow crunching underfoot…crossing icy streams

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Once majestic…broken and splintered…mossy monuments of melancholy

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An intimate picnic…strawberries and alco-pops…expectations…disappointment

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A fresh white carpet…muddy footprints…traces of our presence…and new beginnings

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Rotting carcass…predators feasting…hollow and helpless

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Memories distant…fleeting moments…ghosts of the past…mortality confirmed

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