A Rest Before the Walk (Inside of Digipac)
The Walk – Urban, rural and everything in between. - Contemplation, rhythm, weather, smell, soundtrack (natural / man-made), and the internal monologue. We walk for many reasons, simply as a means of getting from A to B (Shanks’s Pony). Walking for pleasure, walk as pilgrimage, ritual or with the formality of a procession; as escape, as political act or protest. We walk to notice, to search and we walk to think.
We walk in company or alone. We might walk with a spring in our step or it could be a reluctant trudge, a gruelling hike or gentle saunter. Our natural movement can be choreographed into a military march or the exaggerated action of a race walker.
We walk at different rates, often suggested by location, terrain, need and ability. We move about our homes at a particular ‘indoor’ pace, but there are interior spaces such as hospital corridors and station concourses that invite an outdoor rhythm and speed.
To an extent all our walks are coloured by a degree of prior knowledge and awareness. Some locations and the routes we take are however so heavily loaded with particular memories or associations that our experience is profoundly affected by them.
Stride across open moorland, occasional sideways hawthorn; slowing down the pace to explore the skeleton of a long abandoned farm and to see if the Redstarts are back. Stopping only to raise binoculars, catch breath, examine a sagging sheep carcase and to take stock of where I am and how I fit.
Night Walk 2 – Step from the shifting rattle and metallic ’tink’ of the shingle to the dull solid resistance of the concrete promenade. Legs adjust to the new surface and the head to a new quiet.
From the Old Road take the track to Sidebottom Fold Farm at the foot of Wild Bank; through the gate and into the field, under the pylon that fizzes and crackles loudly on rainy days, up to where the heather (thick with flies in late summer) begins. Over the dry stone wall and left along the rutted path to the disused rifle range with its raised banks and collapsing concrete bunkers; a bleak, melancholy place that is gradually being reclaimed by the land. Corroded round casings are still plentiful, embedded in the sandy earth, even though generations of children have collected them by the handful.
E8/N16 - Spiral down the stairwell, eye level and summit of the railway embankment align through window on floor 2, - out onto the estate. Move on past open and boarded shops and once grand Victorian town houses. Join the High Street where a pub chalk board declares ‘Bear Garden at Rear’. Heavy traffic heading northwards. Greengrocer’s outside display overflowing brightly, like waxy treasure under strings of warm electric bulbs, a beacon on winter evenings. Adjacent cold strip lit basement Turkish social club, cheers as Besiktas stick one in. London Pride on right then straight on at the lights, cross and turn into the cemetery (Egg Stores to our back). Dramatic Egyptian inspired entrance. Overgrown arboretum, ivy clad Victorian Gothic. A glittering array of incumbents infuse the ingredients of our ‘Dead Man’s Blackberry and Apple Pie’; drinker’s bench and disused boarded up chapel complete with obligatory satanic graffiti. Exit by the Salvationist Booth family burial plot and head down largely gentrified Church St. Move past the ‘village church’ and into the park where released terrapins clog a vestige of Myddelton’s New River.
Extracts from ‘Walk’ 2015 by Greg Palmer. - Artist and Associate Lecturer on the B.A. (Hons.) Fine Art course at Southampton Solent University & the M.A. Illustration course at Kingston University.
These notes, observations and reflections on walks and walking were written in response to a request made by Keith Seatman for me to produce a text on the subject to accompany the release of his album A Rest Before the Walk, Oct 2015.