Richard White

explorations in place and time


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Honouring Esther on line

How to follow and join the walk.

live.

without walking!

  1. if you have a twitter account log in… if not,no worries!
  2. go to Social Hiking  http://www.shareyouradventure.com/
  3. Social Hiking will ask you to log in in via twitter so click the log in with twitter button. …. thats all you have to do, if you dont have a twitter account it still looks the same but you wont be able to interact so easily:
    1. you will see 3 columns
  4. on the left column, Latest Maps, when the walk is live on 4 and 5 Feb, you will see the current walk with the WalkNow icon and the word LIVE on it, probably at the top of the column
  5. click on the name of the walk and you will see a new green screen showing the line of the walk with little blue icons if you click on them they will show tweets and links to other social media!
  6. Logged into Viewranger via twitter, the map will update and you will see the walk grow over each day, it may do that without being logged in. It will appear as two separate maps, day 1 and day 2. There will be peaks of activity mainly in the mornings, see times below. Please tweet/retweet/comment and encourage others to do so!
  7.  Check out this direct link to the walk on Thursday and this one for Friday

We will be using @walknowlive and @forcedwalks for the main twitter feed

Facebook: forcedwalks

other social media links will be bounced through twitter and facebook

please follow/share/like etc,

use and check out the following #tags  #honouringesther #walknow

you can also follow the walk by following me on Viewranger http://my.viewranger.com/user/details/277417

draft route map:  http://my.viewranger.com/route/details/ODAwODI=

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A walk to the view Bath Oct 4

A short walk to Bathwick fields repeated. Disenchanted if possible.Framed view
The route determined by the National Trust published route (2015) “Walk to the View!”,

this route augmented with data from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

meanderings and wayfarings supplied by the walkers live

The National Trust route offered us the enchantment, both the indications of where to look for the picturesque but also the enchantment of the story of certain individuals who transformed Bath in the C18th.

The UCL research offers both the possibility of insights into a further enchantment, one that we might consider to be evil, but an enchantment nevertheless. To a time when the plantation and slaveowners were being required to abandon some of their productive assets and they in turn demanded compensation.

So where was the disenchantment? I feel we glimpsed it from the start when a walker pointed out that we were looking over the roof of the wrong ice-cream parlour to see Ralph Allen’s house. It was a crowded last day of late summer in Bath with tourists and guided walks all around us, autumn was unfolding as the cold mist lifted.  A real attempt to sense critically from the outset, perhaps too the attempt to perform this live on a smart device and connect with the networks produced a different way of sensing.

At the river the National Trust offered as a triumph of engineering the Navigation from the sea to Bath, we added in our pooled knowledge of industry, mills and pollution. The slaughterhouses sluicing out the offal down the river. What might we have smelt or seen floating down the river? Was there a Bath stench?

view towards weir

We walked on to the Pulteney Bridge and the great palladian estate stretched before us. Trying to decipher the ghost signs on the walls by the church..justice? nuremburg? fresh? finding patterns and making sense. But here indeed was the Bath stench, the Great Silence:

On the walls plaques for Hannah More and William Wilberforce…not to mention others unknown or notorious but not a mention of the slaveowners and the economy that thrived around them. I was shocked that in the dying days of legalised slaveownership  the slave owners fought for compensation for their projected loss. Not that they lost the labour as most enslaved peoples were simply transferred to a form of wage slavery. Each person cold valued in pounds shillings and pence.
18 Gt Pulteney Street
This whole shameful mesh of financiers, insurance, bankers and landowners fought to retain the trade and then to retain their ‘property’ and in Bath they lived side by side. Hannah More for example opposite Charles Blair, great grandfather of George Orwell, who was compensated for the release of 218 enslaved people to the tune of £4442 13s 1d. The enslaved people got nothing. William Wilberforce lived almost next door to the Reverend Alexander Scott who on the basis of the release of  577 people in Antigua and Barbados received approx £10,570 ‘compensation’.

We talked about how these people and these payments should be brought to mind. The slave trade of the C18th supported many of the great estates and buildings of Bath and this massive influx of cash may have fuelled the railway mania of the C19th. There is a conversation to be had about reparations both to the countries of west Africa and to the Caribbean. Building a new prison in Jamaica was not what we were thinking of.

One slaveowner and neighbour of Jane Austen, Bezsin Reece, awarded a total of £3188 13s 11d compensation for the release of 163 enslaved people in Barbados is reported to have “lived in some style with several negro servants” (quote on UCL site) and his wife and daughters (quote on UCL site). The absence of black people in the Jane Austen and related Georgian enchantment was noted. On into the pleasure garden the total enchantment at the heart of Pulteney’s dream new town. Walkers shared that this was also a site of protest and public assembly…another silence.

Stothert bridgeFinally onto the canal and the fine iron Stothert bridges, we made our connections with the almost erased memory of the Stothert and Pitt engineering works asset stripped at the end of the C20th and buried under speculative housing development at the beginning of the C21.

…and out to the fields where the views are picturesquely framed and the city sits in it bowl of comfort dusted by the autumn mist. Even this had its disenchantment and a grounding. Hugo’s bench:
Hugo's bench3

I imagined young Hugo watching the trains, thought of refugees on foot across Europe and people freed at last, but completely displaced and effectively enslaved again in Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua….. as the wealth accumulated and continues to accumulate in this enchanted City. What stories we are telling ourselves…how to take note of, acknowledge, act on these crimes against humanity, how to make recompense, how to learn from the struggle and resistance of people here and abroad?


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River Crouch Festival walk day 3 Burnham to Canewdon

Communicating across the river by land, air and water!

Pagelsham arrival

Our first complete connection across the river began appropriately with an early morning boat ride round to Pagelsham. Crossing the river and seeing from a different perspective where we had walked the day before, earth moving monsters still rearranging the cross rail mud on Wallasea. We chugged around the island and walked the rest, all the way to Canewdon.

Essex flatIn the mud, beached boats, rusting hulks and rotting wooden carcases, the blackened bones of huge dead fish, seals and their pups camouflaged, basking. For that is what seals do. Talking yachting with the ferry men, two brothers in conversation with the flag carrying walkers at the same time holding open with each other a discrete line of conversation on water hazards, tides and navigation. We were dropped off as if in a foreign country and walked up the jetty, the ferry turned and the set off back. We waved thankyou.

With no one we knew to meet us it felt strange, like a film set. Corrugated iron buildings with faded signs, the sound of motors and welding, various dodgy looking, suspicious, but eventually friendly, geezers came to check us out. “I work in the environment, I do” said one going on to describe the costly gear he had buried in the mud. Another said we looked like we had got lost on our way back from Glastonbury. The sun grew hot. A newspaper photographer showed up and we play acted for him. Stuart (local artist) arrived dripping with sweat on his bike to hand over the next code . Project Manager showed up stressed and cross that someone else had done the porterage which she had not wanted to do. And subsequently fired off another stroppy email. I needn’t have come this morning ,she said; as if it wasn’t expected that she should consider it to be part of her job to be at the start each day and see everyone off. At least the suitcases were not transported in a rib. The logistics safety net of the project is weak.

Paglesham flags1We walked on banners flying along the sea wall, all the way round to Canewdon. A tremendous walk if a bit hot and scorchify. Putting on a last burst of speed to get to the school only a few minutes late. After signing in not signing in…PM’s job?.. we found the whole school in the playground seated, expectantly, talking through their community flag. We appeared carrying three flags the gasps from children and grown ups was audible. Jo ( local artist) already on a roll as MC of the whole thing.

Canewdon church ribbon3The Canewdon flag was presented and four flags were carried, with children bearing the two sections of ribbon, to the church. As we arrived the bells started ringing. A tremendous touch, we later climbed the tower and heard the stories of the bells.We were all excited, parents dignitaries, teachers and the vicar looked on as Jo orchestrated the event. Proud children fed out the banner around the church and we were all astounded as it came around the other side and was ceremoniously tied up.

Here the children did seem to understand the gesture and the link, connecting with the history talk and the notion of the embrace of their village building. A real sense of community and pride. Perhaps something to do with getting them out of the school into the streets of their community. We had brought them something special from across the water.

Canewdon schoolIronically the act of running around the church is supposed to produce a presence at the church door. I wonder if that was a deep echo of the churches original pagan site. We later visited the pond where, the story goes, the ‘witches ‘ were drowned. A more respectable superstition was rolled out by the Christian priest, and just past the house called Nirvana a black cat ran across the road in front of us.


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Gravity Fields/In Newtons Footsteps commentary

Project website: In Newtons Footsteps
Part of Gravity Fields festival 2014

Collaboration with Ali Pretty: walking and residency as part of the Gravity Fields festival 2014

What worked:

Support/logistics: the support we received from Gravity Fields was flawless, detailed and timely. Ameneh understood what we were about and communicated the needs of the festival to create an excellent compromise.

Long term developing engagement Feb to September successfully built relationships with a range of different groups and individuals, trust and respect established perhaps best expressed in the lowering of St Georges flag on top of Colsterworth church and its replacement by the flag co-created by Ali and people from the community including the vicar.

The residency at Grantham Museum, although not well attended those who came got and gave great value. It gave the project a home and a physical base before the walks, as a final destination for the inaugural walk and I hope will continue to host the banners and media for some time to come. All those who came to the residency workshops made a huge contribution, building a real sense of local ownership of it. This spilled across into the social media which in turn surfaced as installation text, sound and image. A beautiful expression of this was one participant meeting the walk on day 2 as it came into Grantham, with her disabled mother. She to show her mother what she had been working on. Hugely proud not only of the flag she had contributed to, but also her new achievements using social media she said to me “ I have been following you all the way on twitter”

The walks and especially the inaugural walks, greetings at each of the stops worked well as minor interventions, the presence of Jack Klaff as Newton on walk 1 and the contribution from map man John Manterfield took the walk experience to a different level. Jack’s performance gave the section of the walk an enjoyable surreality and John’s detailed local knowledge revealed deep and fascinating perspectives on the landscape and the people who lived in it and shaped it. From the ancient salters track which we crossed to the traces of impact of the closures John shared something of the lives that had been lived before us.

Mission Control: Paul Wilson’s contribution on both the recce walks and the inaugural walks in the Festival was tremendous. The twitter feed was hot and lively, the apple tree string perhaps being the strongest generating uploads to the flickr feed. Tweets were disseminated within minutes of posting to a very wide audience. Social Hiking and Viewranger took up the walks favoriting them and in turn generating further interest. Live contribution from the walking experts and the prerecorded inserts were all well received. On the day2 walk from Colsterworth the media attention generated gave the physical walk the performative dimension that I was hoping to achieve. With retweets and facebook shares continuing 3 days after the walk and a images still being added t the flickr stream I believe we can lay some claim to have extended the present for a performative walk.

Social media networks twitter and flickr were successful, the social media trail was successfully captured by Viewranger and Social Hiking. Social Hiking linking up with multiple user contributions. For those following online these provided a media rich experience.

What didn’t

Completion. Day 1 finished with the celebratory raising of a flag on top of Colsterworth church, consequent flurry of social media and warm farewells to walkers, two of whom joined on day 2. The end of Day2 and effectively the end of the project was scrappy. The potential of some kind of wrap up at the Museum was lost and people dispersed…including one couple who had left the walk mid afternoon and rejoined us refreshed and clearly hoping for some sort of closure event. Lots of emotional energy and powerful sense of achievement was dissipated. We had created and nurtured some important relationships and experiences there did not seem to be a way to complete and hand that on.

Equality in co-creation. As a performative walk this was both Ali’s work and mine with a massive contribution from a range of other people. Credit for that and orientation to it was well expressed in the Festival programme but not in the live presentations and introductions. Ali’s work represented in the visual presence of the flags is self evident, my work is less tangible but no less creative effort goes into it. As an artist and as custodian of others social media contributions I felt that my work was not appropriately acknowledged. My work did provide a lot of below the line promotional benefits and I access much marketing know-how but it was not a social media marketing campaign and it felt diminished to be described as such.

‘not my job guv’ much of the creative work and development work relied on individuals, whilst this was successfully transitioned to the institution at Woolsthorpe (NT) and Colsterworth(church), at the Museum and within the local authority this was less successfully done. Many left hands not knowing what the many right hands were doing. We were relatively minor players but there was a lack of stewarding on arrival in Grantham and parading through the town. At its worst staff and volunteers at the Museum did not really engage with the residency or the installation and on arrival appeared to have made no effort to get the computer driven element functioning. In the residency neither staff or volunteers took part in the workshops and thus had no idea or engagement in what was being created. In Jim’s absence no one was taking responsibility for the project, on arrival it looked as if the Museum was closed.

Online presence: the split between those controlling posting content to facebook and the three websites was frustrating as was the slow response from the Museum. From the Museum retweets happened infrequently. Delays in getting a common set of accurate information, times and contacts to the web and from Eventbrite. In Newtons Footsteps was effectively a blog and interesting/useful content got buried as the site was updated. The Facebook page was updated belatedly and missed much. Some of this was resolved live but we could have done it better, I did not establish the lines of communication going to each platform or get email contact details for prospective walkers so that I could brief them in advance. Stakeholder organisations and individuals did not seem to grasp the value of creative commons licensed Flickr content and continued to post images to Facebook only.

The media installation: For me the lack of closure at the end of Day 2 was further tinged with sadness to find that the media installation in the Museum was not working. The presence of my creative work and the representation of others creative efforts was considerably diminished by this. I had given up £500 of my fee in order to fund this.

What I learned/what to do next

  • Long term deep engagement works, builds relationships with a wider range of people and stakeholders
  • Physical base works, important that it relates directly to the walking activity..on the route or at the end of it…
  • Closure/Completion/wrap up activity is essential…to close and hand over and say thankyou
  • Social media/social networks work but more training, familiarization seems to be needed especially regarding making the connections to walking and active contribution.
  • Mission Control concept works, needs to be proactive across all platforms in use and live when the project is live
  • Reporting/installation element needs further development and contract compliance work. It’s a physical expression of the legacy. Possible exploration of a single aggregating online/offline platform.
  • Further clearer assertive articulation of my creative practice is needed.

Richard White 30/9/14


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Creative Walks: some notes on the first weekend

Westbury hookon

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.