Cherhill white horse. A walk through oceans of green. The turf covered chalk downs like a frozen tidal surge, wheat fields rippling in the wind and the trees rolling sand roaring. At one with it all. The eye of the horse a sarsen stone no squire’s brandy bottles or tourists beer bottles but a stone older than ice age and reverberating with mystery. What did we think about? The crumbling tower. The momentum building of our walk. Shape and feeling of the landscape, washed by the invisible power of the wind. In our heads thoughts of the sea and under our feet remnants of live in prehistoric oceans. We looked out over the edge.
We celebrate our childrens first steps. Somehow we forget this achievement and walking becomes a mundane activity.
I am energised by walking itself. This walk celebrates putting one foot in front of another.
Went off the map, off GPS, deep into the stinging nettles down in the valley once impenetrable undergrowth,wild with animals, trolls and bog creatures. We clambered up the other side and the dot appeared on the digital map again. The vast sweep of the Pewsey Vale revealed before us another horse in the far distance. The head of the Pewsey horse like a sunburst.
Walking a fine line, divided by barbed wire. All the prohibitions and warnings. On the one side death and war and on the other, life. I remembered the Woody Guthrie lyric. Either side of the line similar technology used for opposite purposes surveillance and photography, communications borne out of the desire to survive. Walked past living trees scarred by the carvings of soldiers long dead. They left their mark before loosing their lives for king and country. Patriotism betrayed. We walked on imagining a stream of people walking up the lane out of Imber and down the deep track away. Would they have believed us if we had told them they would never get their homes back? Churchill’s Christmas promise would never be fulfilled? Elsewhere people gave pots and pans, railings, here where soldiers trained to take lives people gave their homes. Patriotism betrayed.
Then we too came out of the wind and the squall into a sheltered gulley where the sun shone through the trees. Through an idyllic English village to a millstream. Water powered automatons. Playful. A stick man on a bicycle doffing his hat old yoghurt pots and flowerpots scooping the clear urgent water.
Finally up to the top surfing the wind powering off the concrete whitewashed surface of the horse. A granny and son stayed with it all day. The wind was real, the white horse a concrete replica a reminder of the silent concrete works below.
Completed the first weekend of creative walks, content gathering for Walking Wiltshires White Horses.
The challenge of outreach and going beyond the comfort zone
Engagement: all the people who showed for the Creative Walk at Westbury White Horse were up for taking part and all contributed enthusiastically. Most were already known to either me or Ali. Even the person who seemed most sceptical was keen to share her thoughts as a sound recording at the end of the walk. Those who had smart devices used them, so far only in addition to my self and Ali one sharing via Flickr..two sharing via Facebook. Having got people this far it seems to make sense to them but prior turning early interest in to participating walkers is a challenge.
Sunday, no new walkers, only Jo from DOCA. Devizes as the centre of this should have generated the most creative walkers, and even though there were other activites on and the weather was poor. there were no local walkers. Neither the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes orDOCA delivered and the networking efforts of the County Art service had not been able to turn interest into action. The walk steward from the Museum was late, poorly briefed and unable to carry the stewarding responsibilities.
This generated much discussion on the engagement strategy. The Museum staff do not seem to understand the project or to get the target audience, responsibility is being subcontracted and the management line is unclear. The creative element in particular seems hard for them to grasp…brochures for the local art trails and trails of artists studios are in the museum but have not been contacted for this project. Its not simple a matter of capacity it seems like they are working within their comfort zone on a project that requires us all to be pushing our limits. The carnival people have quickly grasped the silk painting element but have not really got a handle on the social media activity as feeding creative work as as a creative activity in itself. Communicating this is hard and I do not feel the message gets through to potential participants.
Communicating directly to artists and people actually doing the walk directly is effective and there is considerable interest bubbling here. Many sound artist locally and internationally expressing an interest. We need to be able to speak directly to artists and potential walkers at the earliest opportunity. We need to communicate more effectively with those who are the first contacts for interested people.
Just published this to www.creativewiltshire.co.uk
Creative Walks Social Media briefing
People have walked these paths ahead of us for generations and many will follow. As we walk we will listen for their footsteps and leave our own memory trail. We will be joining a conversation on landscape, place and people that has been running since our ancestors first walked these hills. We were once only connected by these paths, now we can connect instantly across the globe. Ali Pretty and Richard White invite everyone who is taking part in the creative walks to use the new connectivity to contribute: to share thoughts and experiences, sounds and images. On these walks and after we hope you will enjoy a form of creative sharing using the latest and most ancient technologies.
So the project begins. On Saturday we will walk around the edges of the Imber ranges and back to the iron age hill fort at Bratton above the Westbury White Horses.
Beginning to generate some text and some images with an appeal for audio now live on Sound Cloud