Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind collaborated to create 'Ways to Wander' – a collection of 54 intriguing proposals, from artists involved in the Walking Artists Network, inviting readers to undertake a different kind of walk. Suggestions include David Prescott-Steed's 'Walking in Drains'; Chris Mollon's 'Intertidal Walking'; Claire Hind & Gary Winters' invitation to blow 'a bubble and follow its path'; and Debbie Kent's suggestion to 'try imagining the feel of everything you see'. Qualmann and Hind tell Edgework how the project first began and how it has since developed.
Claire Hind, Footwork research group walk, St Ives Bay, 2015
We met during the exciting Footwork research group gathering, where artists and academics who use walking in their work met, walked and talked. During the second meeting that took place on a walk along the Thames path, from the University of East London in Beckton to Dartford in Kent, we got talking on plans for a project. We talked about Carl Lavery’s 2005 article 25 Instructions for Performing in Cities and the potential to produce something similar but for walking. We discussed how our quite different creative practices and backgrounds both drew on walks/scores/writing and performance. We share an interest in the trace, the map, the contemporary score – as instruction, but also as artwork on the page and in the space. We discussed how writing and scoring a walk is not simply a way to document, but can form a provocation in order to produce generative practices. The page and the walk have reciprocity as a space/experience.
Clare Qualmann, Footwork walk on the Thames Path, London, 2013
We worked together to publish a call for contributions, and in the responses came – not only 100 or so pages, but also an offer to publish the book, from Triarchy Press. The selecting and editing process was quite exciting, a developing, considered approach to curating a new type of book – working to organise a diverse grouping of instructions, suggestions, ideas, commands and guidelines for walks – both real and imagined. We were excited to include contributions for very specific locations (such as Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington, London) as well as those that could be executed anywhere, and those that could be performed in the imagination of the reader. Some of the walks come from pre-existing projects; Lizzie Philps’s Maternity Leaves takes her personal walking/photographic project and invites others to use its format, while walkwalkwalk’s Chip Walk takes their 2007 project to tour the chip shops in the postcode district of London E8 and suggests a walk directed by chips, or ‘any ubiquitous foodstuff’.
Lizzie Philps, Maternity Leaves, 2013
We ended up with 54 ‘Ways’ which are framed in the book by a conversation between us, the editors, a series of illustrations, and an ‘interruption’ by Carl Lavery. Intentionally slim, the book is designed to fit in your back pocket, to be left in your rucksack, to go out and about with. The walks can be experienced with others as a community event and are equally contemplative when experienced in solitude. The different spaces/experiences of walking are encountered through play and some are politically charged, aimed at change.
walkwalkwalk, The Star Fish Bar, A Chip Shop Tour of E8, 2007
With 54 international contributing authors the book feels as though it has travelled quite far quite fast – we like to imagine the generative aspect of the book is being tested, played with, experienced in New Zealand, the US, Australia and mid-Wales. The ways to wander have been used as an avenue into creative writing (walking encouraging experimental writing), how the scores sit for some in the mind (not everyone has to literally do the walks, but they can imagine them). They have been appropriated – taken up in workshops – University of Salford teaches them as studio practice (not necessarily site specific in relation to each walk but rather using the pages to suit their workshop environment). York St John MA students have tested the walks in the city. But they have also been talked about, imagined, reimagined. There is something quite nice about the imagined experience of these walks too because the context of the composition on the page is equally an interesting focus.
University of East London students walk Marie-Anne Lerjen’s Closer walk, 2014
It is coming up for three years since the book was published, and it’s interesting to track what it has done. In 2016 we led a workshop based on the book at the Mountain Arts Festival in Rheghed, looking at the page as a space to construct a walk, then following the instructions that we created out into the landscape. The book also travelled with Clare and the Walking Women conference to Somerset House and Edinburgh Festival where pages by women contributors were printed as stand-alone cards that visitors could take and carry out in each location. Last year we worked with Tate Modern to create a five-week course based on the book, called ‘Ways to Wander the Gallery’. We used artworks in the Tate collection as starting points for walking exercises, writing exercises and experiments in performance. A new book is in the pipeline from this experience – we hope it will be out in the autumn of 2018.
Claire Hind, Walking the Turbine Hall, Ways to Wander the Gallery, Tate Modern 2017
In 2018 Dr. Blake Morris is using the book as a basis for a new project A Wander is Not a Slog carrying out each of the 54 instructions over the course of the year. He is inviting people around the world to join him in interpreting each score, and sharing the documentation of the project on his blog. His most recent walk – Tom Hall’s City Centre – saw more than 40 walkers on 6 continents walk out from the centre of the place that they were in, and then back again.
Blake Morris, re-walking Lizzie Philps’ Maternity Leaves, 2018
Following instructions can open up new ways of being in a place; connecting to its stories, histories, materialities and politics, as well as to others who share it. We like to imagine the walks from the books being tested, amended, edited and developed beyond the frame of the book – inspiring people to look, think, walk, connect and explore in new ways.
Clare Qualmann is a London-based artist working across disciplines: from drawing and sculpture to performance, photography and live-art events (often in the form of walks). Everyday routine, the ordinary and unnoticed and the meeting of the personal and the political are sources of inspiration. Clare is a founder member of the Walking Artists Network, and held AHRC funding from 2012-2015 to facilitate its international development. She lectures at the University of East London and The Cass at London Metropolitan University. For more information please see: www.clarequalmann.co.uk
Claire Hind is an interdisciplinary artist collaborating with Clare Qualmann on walking arts projects. In 2015 they co-edited Ways To Wander published by Triarchy press and in 2017 ran a series of experimental walking and writing workshops Tate Modern. Claire is an Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance at York St John University where she runs the MA in Theatre Making. Claire has an international performance practice with artist Gary Winters, together they create dream walks, Super 8mm film, performance and visual art influenced by cult cinema, dead icons and dark emotional ballads. For further information please see: www.garyandclaire.com
Ways to Wander is available from Edgework. £10 (with free UK postage).