A Drawing Walk on the 10th March 2020
Here is a map of our walk, you may be able to do it too? Or you could write it on a list of things you look forward to doing when you can. Enjoy the movement, the fresh air and perhaps look out for the wild flowers we planted along the way. Enjoy retracing our steps and taking notice of the beauty around you, its there to be found, maybe even take a rubbing or two?
The theme of my drawing based art walk, which took place on the 10th of March, was 'recipe for resilience' - Take Notice, Be Active, Give, Learn and connect.
Take Notice - Taking notice of our surroundings together as we walk, enjoying the places designed for nature to thrive (the gardens) but also the unexpected pockets of nature that crop up along the way. Making rubbings throughout the walk as a way of documenting both our encounters with the natural and the contrasting man made textures that it lives within.
Be Active - Walking
Give – Planting a couple of wildflower seed bombs wherever we like along the walk, giving back to nature and hopefully creating something that can be spotted in the future along this walk.
Learn - Everyone’s knowledge of nature is different, some people know the Latin names for plants or know recipes those plants can be used in, others may have strong memories or a folk story that connect to a particular plant or tree. We can share this knowledge of what we come across with each other, and even incorporate it into the rubbing drawings.
Connect – Being together on a group walk.
The Materials for the walk were; a bundle each of graphite, crayons and charcoal, different papers such as tissue and tracing paper, a cardboard clip board, seed bombs and a plastic bag in case it rains and to keep it all in.
During my planning recce for the art walk I noticed that looking for textured surfaces for making rubbings, made me notice much more of the detail around me and beneath my feet. The focus on nature can often be the scene, the landscape, but actually there is so much to be found in the tiny, the overlooked and trodden on. Also I was surprised and pleased by how often you come across those pockets of green, even on a relatively short walk in the city, sometimes it is just a case of crossing the road, not sticking to a main path…
And so the day for our drawing art walk arrived. After a little while while we got into the rhythm of our walk – walking, talking and stopping evey now and again to create a batch of rubbings (which was tricky at times with very fine paper and a high wind). Up until the point we crossed the road and entered the first park, next to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, the surfaces and examples of nature were a little repetitive (fence, railing, concrete, tree bark. Repeat) Having said that there were some great examples of nature’s resilience along this stretch, plants bursting through the concrete, beautiful fungus on a tree stump, and various plants including lavender poking out of fences and railings to greet us. We also got some great text based rubbings from the ground.
It was nice to be surrounded by nature in the park, and to be able to gather more varied natural textures. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Gardens were lovely, from the variety of plants growing there to the fantastic engraved quotes in the flower beds, ripe for rubbings.
I noticed how physical taking a rubbing can be, kneeling down on the ground, leaning into a flowerbed, stretching up into a tree wanting to harvest a particular texture involves getting into all sorts of positions…as does chasing pieces of tissue and tracing paper caught by the wind!
The social aspect of this workshop was really enhanced compared to workshops I have done with everyone in the studio, although there is a bit of chat people are usually very focused on their own work. In this walking workshop the activity itself happened in bursts and we all tended to stop and do our rubbings or plant our seeds around the same time, between this as happens on walks, it was a great opportunity to get to know the each other as we coupled up either to physically help someone walk or because we have just fallen step with someone. There was a great sense of warmth in the group, of looking out for each other.
As well as learning much about peoples lives, we also shared knowledge of the names of plants, fungi and trees and significant buildings on route that people had lived in (and since been demolished) along the way.
Towards the end of the walk we were all drawn to a carved wooden sculpture of bee’s, butterflies and honeycomb patterns as the marks created by the chainsaw that carved it were ideal for rubbings, after a while we noticed a plaque and realised the sculpture had been made and placed there to remember those lost in the Manchester Arena Bombing. Knowing this made our time with the sculpture, and the rubbings we made from it, an important, and emotional, marker on our journey.
An easy walk, nice fresh air and smiling faces
I assumed there would be only one type of material to use so it was really nice to be able to explore a few.
That got me fit
I enjoyed planting the seeds
I would definitely do that walk again
The rubbings, and discovering different textures was the highlight for me
What could be done differently?
Aside from changing the weather to be less windy! The main thing we thought we could change was to use bigger paper, and perhaps a bit more time sitting down in the last park. We discussed the idea of taking an enormous piece of paper back to the wooden memorial sculpture, enveloping it, and making a rubbing, together, of the the whole thing.