Footwork - The Walking Artists Network as Mobile Community

Lead Research Organisation: University of East London
Department Name: Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract

This network will bring together researchers from a range of disciplines to explore the social and cultural function(s) of walking as a dialogic, investigative and performative mode of art practice. It will extend discussion of walking art as a medium with potential to interact with and inform a range of disciplinary perspectives in relation to notions of site, place, participation, mobility, communities, environment and histories. It seeks to build a community of practice - from peers within the realms of art and academe with an interest in walking as an artistic and interrogatory practice, to those communities who utilise walking in social and cultural forms (ramblers, strollers) as research (environmentalists, naturalists, archaeologists) and sport (mountaineers, speed-walkers) and merely as a mode of getting from A-B (commuters).

In the last five to ten years walking has emerged and evolved as an art practice and medium that is used across the visual and performing arts. Conferences, symposia and other events that touch upon walking as a mode of art practice have brought walking artists and researchers together and continued to highlight the diverse practices, forms and methodologies that might be defined as walking art. New publications too have appeared that work to develop and extend this discourse. However it is still a very new field, and the research questions that the network seeks to ask, alongside the aim to connect practitioners and researchers across disciplines, will serve to develop further understanding and exchange.

By engaging participants from a range of disciplines the network seeks to rapidly progress knowledge and understanding of the range and nature of practices using walking, and the theoretical standpoints that inform them. Cross fertilisation of ideas, and transfer of knowledge in this area is envisaged on a number of levels - through the sharing of research methods, approaches and forms of working.

In practical terms the network will encompass academia and practice, from a broad range of visual and performing arts areas. A series of meetings (4) over a period of 24 months will be held. A core research group of 12-15 participants will be formed by invitation. An additional open call for participants will be made, using academic and practice-focused channels, for walking art 'laboratories' to be held alongside the 'Sideways' festival of walking in Belgium in August 2012, and alongside the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival in June 2013. An online presence for the network will act as a repository for documentation of the workshop series as well as providing for remote participation both nationally and internationally.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of this research will extend well beyond the core research group of academics. The multi-disciplinary scope of this group provides a strong foundation for maximising the impact potential of the research - as each member undertakes to communicate its findings within their disciplinary circle.The inclusion in the research group of established practitioners, members of cultural and non-governmental organisations additionally provides for impact outside of academia into arts practice, and applied areas such as environment, mobility, recreation and landscape development.

The project partner, Trage Wegen, provides the key route to impact outside of the arts and academia. Their expertise and experience in working with activists, communities and policy makers ensures that knowledge transfer from both theoretical and practice based standpoints can be maximised - for example through the transfer of innovative dialogic research methods and collaborative working models. The co-location of the first network meeting at the 'Sideways' festival in Belgium (organised by Trage Wegen) provides opportunity for immediate knowledge transfer, as well as potential for making connections that will lead to future collaboration and relationships both during and beyond the life of the network.

The co-location of the third network meeting at the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival, additionally provides opportunity for knowledge transfer. This is an annual event co-sponsored by local authorities, DEFRA, the ramblers and Sustrans, with a focus on the rural economy, sustainability and walking for health, the festival has not previously included a walking art component. Conan Lawrence, network member and lecturer at the University of Lincoln, is working closely with the festival's organisers to develop this connection and to ensure that potential impact is fully exploited.

The Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator, alongside the core research group, bring existing relationships with a range of cultural institutions who offer routes to dissemination and dialogue with diverse communities. These are key to ensuring that the network's findings and outputs extend beyond the life of the scheduled meetings.

Existing relationships with arts and cultural organisations that may benefit from this research include:

Camden Arts Centre, a public contemporary visual arts space in London with an established live art/performance strand.

Chelsea Theatre, London's 'live art' theatre, dedicated to commissioning, producing and presenting the freshest and most innovative artists, both nationally and internationally.

Hoxton Hall, an east London arts centre with a history of community-engaged, youth focused projects.

Plymouth Arts Centre, a visual arts centre with a reputation for its local and international contemporary art exhibitions.

London Transport Museum, dedicated to conserving the capital's transport heritage and engaging in debates around the history and future of transport in London.

The New Art Gallery, Walsall presents, collects and interprets historic, modern and contemporary art in innovative and challenging ways.

Turner Contemporary, Margate. The largest exhibition space in the South East, outside of London, Turner Contemporary is a dynamic visual arts organisation that believes in making art open, relevant and fulfilling for all.

Verbeke Foundation, Belgium is a 30 acre private art site which focuses on culture, nature and ecology through commissions, residencies and exhibitions forefronting emerging artists.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title THE WALKING ENCYCLOPAEDIA 
Description The Walking Encyclopaedia sought to present an overview, or a survey, of walking as a contemporary cultural activity. From an open call which asked for: • video documentation of walks, and films about walks, • sound documentation of walks, • photographs and photographic documentation of walks, • artworks made on walks, about walks and as walks, • publications and zines about walks and walking practices, The Walking Encyclopaedia was a physical and online repository for walking practices and presents over 150 cultural practitioners and their works, crossing disciplines as varied as art & design, architecture, archaeology, anthropology, cultural geography, history, spatial design, urban design and planning. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The walking encyclopaedia blog created alongside the exhibition has become an ongoing record of over 150 self-identified walking artists and their works http://walkingencyclopaedia.blogspot.co.uk. 
URL http://www.airspacegallery.org/index.php/projects/the_walking_encyclopaedia_incl._paths_of_variable_...
 
Title Walking Women 
Description WALKING WOMEN was a programme of events that placed women at the centre of discussions and debates about walking and art. A week-long programme ran at Somerset House, London as part of their Utopia 2016 festival, and a day-long programme ran at Forest Fringe in Edinburgh at part of the Edinburgh International festival. "The invisibility of women in what appears as a canon of walking is conspicuous; where they are included, it is often as an 'exception' to an unstated norm, represented by a single chapter in a book or even a footnote." - Heddon and Turner (2012) 'Walking Women: Shifting the Tales and Scales of Mobility' Contemporay Theatre Review, Vol. 22(2), 2012, p. 225 WALKING WOMEN asked - How do we re-write a canon? How do we re-balance the perception of art, artists, and the use of walking as a creative practice? Can we not only imagine a future in which gender bias and skewed vision is destroyed, but actively build the pathway there? Bringing together artists from across disciplines - theatre makers, writers, sculptors, film makers, poets, live artists and visual artists with academics, curators and cultural critics to discuss, present, create, record, broadcast and make public the work of WALKING WOMEN.This series of events acknowledges and celebrates their work, sharing practice through walking artworks, talks and discussions. WALKING WOMEN created a space in which artists and creative practitioners could connect with one another and with new audiences for their work, generating debate, discussion and new knowledge, with the goal of raising the visibility of these practices. Artist's walks and talks ran alongside a Wikipedia edit-a-thon of women walking artists, an open mic Pecha-Kucha, and special editions of LADA's Study Room and The Walking Library, featuring books by, about and related to walking women 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Over 40 artists presented their work in the format of walks, talks, films and performances. Somerset House reported that the weekend of programming at the heart of WALKING WOMEN was the most animated of their year-long festival - and they are using it as a basis for reconsidering their approach to collaborative curation and event programming. As well as enabling networking amongst artists, an extensive new audience was reached with full house audiences for every event. Director of the Live Art Development Agency, Lois Keidan, commented that this work was essential - and that she would like to see the project extended with collaboration with national art galleries/institutions. 
URL http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/whats-on/walking-women/
 
Description The routes to walking as a mode of art practice are many and varied. Practitioners from backgrounds such as painting, sculpture, theatre, dance and literature (to name a few) self identify as walking artists. Additionally, researchers and practitioners from a range of non-arts based areas, including geography, anthropology, philosophy, town planning and public health are increasingly interested in walking art practices and how they intersect with their work.
Whilst the project's members directory has mapped this range and breadth of disciplinary identities within the field of walking art, it has also revealed that the scale (of people identifying as walking artists) is too great from a project on this scale to tackle.
This opens some interesting questions for possible future study - which were articulated as part of the final network meeting in April 2016.
These are divided into 3 key strands:
1. The diversity of forms and growth of interest in walking art practices
2. The regional particularities in walking (art)
3. The politics of walking (art).

Each of these was further expanded in our call for papers at the closing symposium:
1. The growth/ interest in walking art practices: Its visibility, breadth and range
What are the sensibilities and dynamics in art theory that are promoting walking's popularity?
How do these relate to wider cultural sensibilities and structures of feeling?
How are ideas of placed encounters with walking globally circulated and reproduced?
How are mobile and located technologies promoting new platforms and audiences for walking art practices?

2. Regional particularities in walking (art)
How does the act of walking take possession of landscape and/or articulate the identity of the walker with the place (and vice versa)?
How can we challenge ourselves as walkers in a passive landscape/backdrop: How do the animate and inanimate act upon one another?
How does the act of walking connect places?
How is regional identity communicated or marketed (nationally and internationally) through the appeal of walking?

3. The politics of walking (art)
Who is marginalized or left behind?
Who is walking? Who isn't walking?
Are the resistances of walking over-stated?
How does walking mobilise political action?

We are currently working on an edited volume collecting together the papers from the symposium that addressed these questions, to be published by Triarchy Press in 2017.
Exploitation Route Members of the research group are currently working on funding proposals to further several lines of inquiry emerging from the network. For example Sacha Kagan and Cathy Turner are developing a project that looks in details at artists in India using walking in their practice. I am working with partners including Somerset House in London, and Forest Fringe in Edinburgh, along with the artist Amy Sharrocks, on a series of events that forefront the work of women walking artists - this is in collaboration with network member Prof. Dee Heddon.
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.footworkwalk.wordpress.com
 
Description One example of impact is the establishment of an annual walking festival 'Still Walking' by a participant in one of the network's meetings. He commissioned artists that he had met at the network event, and uses the network mailing list to promote the festival. The festival has now been running for 4 years and receives arts council funding. Audience figures for the 2015 festival were 300+ with 16 newly commissioned walks. Additionally participants in the broader (web-based) network have reported that its discussion groups have created a sense of belonging and of community, a feeling that their practices are shared and understood by others. Particularly in the case of geographically remote practitioners this has been impactful in enabling them to connect, share their ideas, discuss work-in-progress, and take up opportunities to participate in person. In 2016 I worked wit Somerset house to deliver a programme of events 'Walking Women' as part of their year-long Utopia festival. Using the network approach in engaging artists as speakers and in presenting their work generated the 'most animated' week of the year. Somerset House are now using this curatorial approach to consider how they might adapt their approach to generating public engagement with their events programme in the future.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description UEL Undergraduate Research Internship
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of East London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 05/2013 
End 07/2013
 
Description AirSpace Gallery 
Organisation AirSpace Gallery
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I worked with the directors of Airspace gallery on an open-call exhibition intended to construct a survey of self-identified walking artists working in the UK and beyond. I provided consultancy and overview support on the exhibition's format and curation.
Collaborator Contribution Airspace managed the exhibition call and organised the logistics of the exhibition. The gallery team managed the curatorial overview of the exhibition, as well as creating an online record of the works submitted and exhibited.
Impact 1. Exhibition: THE WALKING ENCYCLOPAEDIA February 7th - March 15th, 2014, Airspace Gallery, Stoke on Trent 2. Website: THE WALKING ENCYCLOPAEDIA, walking artist of the day, online - ongoing http://walkingencyclopaedia.blogspot.co.uk
Start Year 2012
 
Description Trage Wegen 
Organisation Trage Wegen
Country Belgium, Kingdom of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We contributed to the planning, delivery, and facilitation of the final weekend of the Sideways festival including funding travel and accommodation for key international participants to ensure an international scope to the event. We delivered a half-day workshop engaging festival participants in an open space format event to enable networking, sharing of practices and ideas and future plan building.
Collaborator Contribution Trage Wegen conceived, planned, and delivered the Sideways festival commissioning and curating a range of artists projects, as well as a series of talks, discussion forums and two symposiums during a four week period.
Impact Outputs are listed under the entry that relates to this included in the 'events' section named 'walkie talkie too'. Additionally this partnership extended awareness of the network beyond the UK - e.g. European subscriptions to our jisc mailing list increased. more about the Sideways festival here http://sideways2012.be
Start Year 2011
 
Description Er Outdoors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A radio broadcast for the 'Er Outdoors' programme on Resonance FM. Artists Clare Qualmann, Amy Sharrocks and Kubra Khademi join Dr Jo Norcup to discuss the use of walking in their art and performance practice; and the forthcoming Walking Women events in London and Edinburgh which make visible the performance practices of walking women artists from around the globe while spotlighting the risks and daring of making works in the public realm. Produced by Geography Workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/clear-spot-er-outdoors-ep-3-14-july-2016/
 
Description Footwork Thames Walk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This meeting took the form of a 16 mile walk along the river Thames from UEL's Docklands Campus to Dartford on the south side of the river. The landscape that we moved through triggered a range of conversations and themes that were used to frame a discussion forum the following day.

One of the participants, Dr. Claire Hind, wrote a paper exploring her experience of the walk 'An account of what seemed most remarkable in the nine hours' peregrination along the River Thames' delivered at The Cultures of Memory symposium at Syracuse University in October 2013.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://footworkwalk.wordpress.com
 
Description Footwork Walk CAT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This meeting took the form of a 16 mile walk along the route of artist Jess Allen's 'Tilting at Windmills' film work, and a series of workshops and discussion sessions at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. Artists, Academics, and Cultural stake holders networked internationally and across disciplines. Early career researchers connected with more experienced academics. Workshop sessions sparked interesting discussions around the history and role of walking in visual art and performing art practices.

Plans for future collaborations (including hosting the final network meeting) were made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://footworkwalk.wordpress.com
 
Description Footwork Walk Hayle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A group of 16 researchers, PhD students and artists walked a series of routes in Hayle, Cornwall over the course of 2 days. The artist/researcher Lucy Frears' oral history app 'Hayle Churks' was used as a basis for extended exploration of ideas around historical narratives and shifts in industrial space.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://footworkwalk.wordpress.com
 
Description Step by Step (2) an interdisciplinary seminar with a focus on walking 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This seminar is the second in a short series bringing together artists and researchers from across disciplines whose work uses, addresses, results in, or engages with walking.
The speakers hail from diverse backgrounds but share common threads in the way their work uses walking to facilitate processes of listening, understanding and the sharing of stories and histories. 3 speakers presented their work, with an audience of 30 participating in discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.eventbrite.com/e/step-by-step-2-an-interdisciplinary-seminar-with-a-focus-on-walking-tic...
 
Description Step by Step (3), an interdisciplinary seminar with a focus on walking 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This seminar was the third in a short series bringing together artists and researchers from across disciplines whose work uses, addresses, results in, or engages with walking.
The speakers hail from backgrounds in fine art, cultural geography, and dance respectively but share common threads in the way their work addresses differential mobilities, public space, walking as transport and the everyday. 3 speakers presented on their work, with an audience of 20 who took part in a discussion following the talks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.eventbrite.com/e/step-by-step-3-an-interdisciplinary-seminar-with-a-focus-on-walking-tic...
 
Description Step by Step (4) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This Step by Step seminar focused on issues of walking and migration, and featured Dr. Göze Saner (Goldsmiths); Marion Vargaftig (Manifesta); and Dr. Georgie Wemyss (University of East London).

Dr. Göze Saner is a lecturer in theatre at Goldsmiths University. Göze has trained with The New Winds, led by Iben Nagel Rasmussen of Odin Teatret, with Claudia Contin and Ferrucio Merisi on commedia dell'arte, with Enzo Cozzi on leather mask-making and with Alison Hodge on her clown. Since 2005, she has been working with The Quick and the Dead led by Alison Hodge. In 2005, Göze founded her company, cafila aeterna, www.cafila-aeterna.com. Currently, the company is working on developing a traveling performance in response to the tortoise as archetype. Dr. Saner will be discussing her project Migrant Steps, a community theatre project that engages migrant women living in the UK and Europe. Starting from the figure of a travelling tortoise and combining methodologies such as psychogeography, performance art, physical theatre and autobiographical writing, the project aims to transform participants' relationship with the urban environment.

Marion Vargaftig is a founder of Manifesta, which aims to facilitate creative expression of marginalised and youth voices (including migrants) using arts and culture and film-making, in order to express young people's ideas and perspectives, and put them 'centre stage' - using traditional exhibition sites as well as more unusual public spaces to reach the widest possible audience mix, and to provoke refreshed discourses on key current social and cultural affairs. She will discuss her project In My Footsteps, which used walking to create interactions between people and place - combining local history and heritage with communal culture and personal identity. First piloted in London's East End - Whitechapel, Limehouse and Poplar - it has engaged local residents, young and old, in living-heritage activities: unearthing, highlighting and celebrating fresh 'takes' on particular places that matter to them.

Dr. Georgie Wemyss is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging. She is currently working on the EUBorderscapes project, investigating the evolving concepts of state borders in Europe. Her interest in the everyday processes of bordering grew out of her D.Phil ethnographic research about Britishness and belonging together with insights gained from 20 years teaching social anthropology to adults returning to education in East London. Previously she worked as a youth worker in Tower Hamlets and lived in India and Bangladesh where she studied at the Bangla Academy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.walkingartistsnetwork.org/step-by-step-seminar-series/
 
Description Step by Step: an interdisciplinary seminar with a focus on walking 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This seminar was the first in a short series bringing together artists and researchers from across disciplines whose work uses, addresses, results in, or engages with walking.
The speakers hail from diverse backgrounds but share common threads in the way their work addresses resistant practices, public space, the everyday, education, autonomy, critical cartography and empowerment.
3 speakers presented on their work, with an audience of 25. A lively discussion followed the talks, with an increase in membership to the network following the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.eventbrite.com/e/step-by-step-an-interdisciplinary-seminar-with-a-focus-on-walking-ticket...
 
Description Walkie Talkie Too 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Walkie Talkie Too was a workshop that was delivered as part of the final weekend of the Sideways Festival of Walking in Zutendaal (Belgium) in September 2012. Approximately 25 Artists, Performance practitioners, Architects, Geographers and Anthropologists from across Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Belgium) took part. The workshop enabled participants to share elements of their previous practice and research across disciplines, and to experiment on the spot together with ideas arising. Several of these conversations sparked ongoing exchanges via the network's jisc-mail discussion list and 'real-world' collaborations.

The exhibition co-delivered in 2014 with AirSpace Gallery in Stoke on Trent (UK) 'The Walking Encyclopedia' was conceived of during this workshop through the meeting of the gallery directors with the WAN/Footwork PI and advisory group. Additionally artists participating in the wider 'Sideways' programme networked with cultural stakeholders resulting in e.g. the commissioning of new works - 'Orquestina de Pigmeos' were commissioned to create new site specific promenade performance work in Falmouth in 2013 http://www.penrynartsfestival.co.uk/#!orquestina-de-pigmeos/c19ym
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://walkietalkietoo.wordpress.com
 
Description Where to? The Future of Walking Arts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 100 artists, researchers and other practitioners (e.g. musicians, architects, writers, geographers) attended this one day symposium featuring 30 presentations on the future of walking as a mode of art practice. This resulted in increased requests for membership of the network, including subscriptions to the jisc-mail list. A lively discussion followed, both in person and via the jisc-mail list on a number of points. This led to a proposed publication stemming from the symposium's presentations which has been accepted by Triarchy press, planned for publication in 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.falmouth.ac.uk/whereto