Very unsettled weather led to an ever changing sky. From heavy brooding grey clouds to perfect blue and back again in the time it takes to take off your jumper. Pausing every three minutes to take a photograph looking straight up.
The wonderful sugestion from a friend to use the resulting image as a mood descriptor – today I have been feeling rather E6, but I am hoping tomorrow will be C5…
7.6 miles through Windmill Hill, Bedminster, and Ashton Gate, then across fields before trailing through the very appropriately named Long Ashton and finally ending in more fields.
A walk focused on discontinuities, divisions, and joins. The easiest to spot – mends in the tarmac, joins between old and new walls. The largest – the huge bridge built to carry the new Metrobus. Built to join areas of the city together, but currently unused and gathering graffiti, visually dividing the landscape and creating a physical divide in the public footpath. I found unexpectedly sharp divisions of land use where a brand new housing estate buts right up against an area of wildlife. I thought I was walking along a clear division – a fence dividing two fields, one containing me, the other full of cows. But then the fence ended. The physical division was no more and I had to create a mental one, convincing myself that the cows were quite happy on their side of the field and had no desire to join me on mine. Luckily they agreed with me.
This is the first set of photos that I have taken whilst consciously thinking how they would work when pixelated. I deliberately positioned the discontinuity along the midline of the photo (either horizontally or vertically) in the hope that it would be clearly visible in the change of colour in the pixelated image.
A walk through sprawling Bristol. My aim was to try and walk
as far North as The Mall shopping Centre (the group of white buildings above
and slightly to the right of the furthest north point of my walk). I got
tantalisingly close, but in the end was defeated by a combination of a locked
gate, a grumpy caravan owner, and the extreme heat of the day. I did get to
Filton airstrip, now defunct but still a huge mark on the map of Bristol.
My first timer went off as I walked down a cut through between houses – high brick wall on one side, a fence on the other. The only spot of colour, a ‘danger of death’ sign on an electricity transformer box, gave me my theme for the rest of the walk – every three minutes I took a photograh that included some element of text:
Old favourites, company names in the frogs of bricks piled high on a demolition site.
Sign in a window ‘These premises are alarmed!’ – by what?
Grafitti – ‘we have to start somewhere’ and ‘no going back’. Signs of the times, but sounding to me like the start of a Margaret Atwood distopia.
‘Look right’ sprayed on the grass at a golf course. A safety
warning, or sartorial instruction?
Walking East, not an easy thing to when there is a river in the way. There are surprisingly few places to cross the River Avon to the East of the city, hence the large detour North before I could head east again.
The rule for this walk, a photograph of the ground every minute, suggested itself as soon as I left the house – wearing walking boots rather than my normal sandals, I was very aware of the sound of my footsteps on the pavement. I took the photos without judgement, looking directly downwards every minute as the relentless buzzer went off, but turns out even a quick photograph and a speedy reset of the timer takes time – I was out for four hours, but according to the number of photos, I was only walking for two of those.
I am drawn to the images of the grey tarmac, especially those that have captured a mend, or join, an unconformity in the continual surface of endless paths.
If I ever print these colour walk images, they will be tiny
little post cards to make you really look up close and personal at the images,
or to hold the colours tight to you. A comment on how hemmed in I have been
feeling during lock down, especially this month when I was expecting to be
roaming free in the wilds of Northumberland.
Four colour isolation walks around my neighbourhood, blue, pink, yellow and black, or, at a push, cyan, magenta, yellow and key. I feel very aware of my urban environment at the moment and these colour collections reflet that. Several surprises. The first being just how much more in the moment I felt walking whilst searching for colours. Most of the time when I walk I am focussed on getting somewhere – it is a very different experience being more present, taking notice and enjoying my surroundings. Second surprise was how hard it was to find some colours. I had to really hunt for pinks, but when they were found they were well worth the effort – the pink princess pony is a real favourite. Other colours were plentiful but lacking in variety – so much of the yellow I found was gorse/road marking bright, I think 90% of the cars in my area are black, and a good 70% of the front doors some variety of blue.
Walking South, taking a photograph facing West every five minutes – a journey through Bristol housing stock. What amazed me was just how suddenly urban Bristol stopped, and rural greenness began. There was no slow transition, one moment you are in a housing estate, the next on a lane enclosed on both sides with impenetrable green hedges.
Walking with a
kitchen timer clipped to my belt slicing the walk into five minute segments.
Odd looks from the few people I met.
My mobile phone getting
hotter and hotter in my pocket as I track my walk on an App. Half way through the battery gives out,
meaning I have to plug it into a battery pack. Now my pocket is extremely hot
and very heavy.
between glasses and sunglasses to read the map, read the compass, look at
camera controls etc. I forget if my
glasses are on my head, clipped into my T-shirt or in a pocket.
A circular walk beginning and ending at my house. Learning from my first experiment, this time I had rules. I took two photos every two minutes, the first a close up of the most colourful thing near me, the second a wider view of something nearby. Not too restrictive, and it gave me more of a structure than on my previous walk. The first colour grid shows the colours resulting from computer manipulation of the photos, the second are the colours I feel best represent each photo. As a lover of the muted colour palette, I think the computer has made the better choices.
Today should have been the first day of my residency in Tarset, Northumberland. As part of VARC‘s (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) two-year programme ENTWINED: Rural. Land. Lives. Art, I was due to be partnered with Unison Colour, makers of hand-made artists’ pastels.
With all that is going on in the World, a postponed residency is a little thing, but I am still deeply disappointed. I was looking forward to the coming month as a great challenge, both personally and professionally. The colours of Northumberland were calling, filled with the promise of a new outlook providing new ideas. I was both excited and trepidatious about the challenge of living on my own for a month.
With the Covid 19
lock down, Bristol has become a new, quieter place. The death of a friend has taken away the
motivation to make or create.
With the start of May, I have decided to reframe the ideas I was going to explore in Tarset, to see how I can approach them in Bristol. The starting points of my explorations in Northumberland were to be walking and colour. My basic plan is to go for walks through Bristol, photographing colour as I go. I will then use these photographs to create a colour representation of the walks, and to create a colour palette of Bristol.
Today I used my 30
minute walk to my studio as a test walk.
This first attempt has taught me that I need parameters. Just walking and taking random photographs didn’t
feel satisfying. Too much choice ended
in paralysis. I need some rules.
I found myself
having an internal argument about the
type of photographs I wanted to take – is it enough to record colour, or does each
photograph need to be beautiful?
The first image
shows the grid composed of a tiny close up section of each photo, with the
simplified colour version underneath.
The third image uses the whole photo, again with the simplified colours
underneath. I think I prefer the second experiment, but I am not sure about the
mixture of depths. Would an image
composed of all flat surfaces be more pleasing, or just dull?
The next grid needs
to be composed of more images to give me more pixels.
Thank you to everyone who visited me in studio 27 during our open studio event this weekend. It was lovely to see so many of you, both those I knew, and those I didn’t. I had many a fantastic conversation (my favourite being about spittoons on underground trains, I kid you not) and received fabulous and encouraging feedback about my work. The challenge now is to try and keep my studio tidy for more than a day – it is such a treat to be able to see the floor, and not to be in danger of tripping over at every step.