Level 10 of Tate Modern‘s new Blahvatnik building offers 360 degree views of London’s skyline. To the north with St Paul’s Cathedral directly in your view, on a winter morning, with low light, colours are muted and yet the eye picks out shapes, lines and things one may not have noticed before. Under the careful guidance of Ruth Broadbent, our first ‘Drawn to the Skyline‘ workshop participants, began with experimental drawing using a technique, Ruth calls ‘Till roll skyline’ in which we were encouraged to deconstruct and reconstruct the skyline view in front of us.
Descending to ground level, we then undertook a ‘Scribble walk’ using a drawing machine that included a ‘Heath Robinson’ requisite rubber band, in which we walked over the Millennium Bridge, getting the movement of our body to trace lines. It was surprising how quickly we created art work of which we were proud, and Ruth encouraged us to share our work. There followed a period of time during which we not only drew where we were walking but undertook a performance in which we we walked the lines each other had drawn. That and learning a technique to slice the view to make it easier to sketch on the move, we were brimming with our success and didn’t want the walkshop to end. We also tried more traditional drawing techniques including using the built environment to frame our view and looking back and forward to observe from different perspectives.
As one participant wrote in her feedback “Thank you for making this morning’s expedition such fun! I looked with new eyes at things I had not noticed before. Ruth obviously has so many good ideas and such a friendly way of communicating them.“
If you want to buy a couple of spaces as a Christmas Gift – drop us a line to arrange this
What would make your perfect neighbourhood in which to live?
Easy to get around on foot, a variety of destinations within walking distance, quintessential charm with little traffic and places to sit, contemplate, chat to neighbours and friends, or play out with your children, would probably be the key factors we would choose. Terence Bendixson believes his local London neighbourhood of Chelsea fits the bill – he has lived there since he was 11, when he used to walk to school, and since then he has walked his children and grandchildren. It is all about street pattern and layout apparently – just don’t invite cars to come, instead make it known that it is difficult to get around by car, and they will stay away. As some will already know, Terence is President of Living Streets, and possibly the longest serving pedestrian activist in the world, so it was a great pleasure to walk his local neighbourhood and talk with him about his passion for walking in city neighbourhoods. You can listen too with our latest Talking Walking episode.
Blueprint for walking? Examples of intriguing ways to navigate.
Just this week, on a bright sunny morning, I met up with the Museum’s Co-creator Simon Waters to walk from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace in a roundabout route via the Parkland walk to Highgate, and then Queen’s Wood and up to Muswell Hill.
The Parkland Walk is a disused railway line through Haringay that links parks that we have used for the Mayor of London’s London Tree Week in May this year. We Stalked Trees in Highgate Woods (commissioned by The Woodland Trust), composed haiku in Queen’s Woods and ran Mindfulness walkshops in Finsbury Park. For Simon and I these, off-road routes were actually fairly icy and one had to pick ones way with care. Frustratingly that was the case too, on tarmac footpaths and footways, and we had to resort to walking on the roads….why, oh why is this still the case in when London claims to be a ‘walkable city’?
Our curiosity was piqued after we stopped for coffee at the Queen’s Wood community cafe, by some intriguing finger posts, with quotes, from Dylan, Shakespeare and others, it wasn’t until we got through to the far side of the woods that we found out about “Out of the Woods – Words to navigate by” by artist Grace Adam. Thanks to the Friends of Queen’s Wood for commissioning her.
Listen out next week when BBC Radio 3’s slow radio champion Horatio Clare sets off in the footsteps of J S Bach on five “Bach Walks” and if you are looking for a stocking filler, look no further than Adam Ford‘s wonderful book ‘Mindful Thoughts for Walkers‘. Both highly recommended!