Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Walking Encyclopaedia - A reconnaissance walk with Phil Smith

In just over a week, esteemed walking artist Phil Smith of Wrights & Sites and Mythogeography fame will be leading a brand new group walk, designed specifically for The Walking Encyclopaedia.

Phil's walk is entitled, Refrains For Uncertainly Sacred Spaces and will look to explore, uncover and explode mythologies built up around the imposition of the notion of sacred on particular city spaces. 

As Phil puts it -
This is a walk in search of pseudo-sacred spaces; these might be the ruins, fabrications, fadings and hoaxes of sacred space; they might include spaces that once were regarded as sacred but have been traduced or abandoned, like a chapel that is now used as offices, or a fake sacred space like a stone circle erected as ornamentation in a children’s play area. We will follow a route of promising possibilities and test out some little moments of transgression and transcendence, nosiness and excavation, while on the lookout for other pseudo-sacred spaces on the walk itself. 

Before this week's Soup Kitchen, I had the privilege of joining Phil on his recce walk of the environs around the Gallery. Acting as onlooker and assistant to Phil, was a really instructive experience.

I think we started out, or at least I did, with the idea that we would cover a large distance, considering the 3-4 hours we have put aside for the walk, yet it quickly became clear, that Phil's eye for the minutiae of the urban landscape meant that in the 2 and a bit hours of our walk, we physically travelled probably no more than a few hundred metres - yet in metaphysical terms, it felt like a bit of a marathon!

And as ever when you are walking someone else's walk, you start to see things you wouldn't necessarily see. I've lived in this city for a good many years, and yet Phil, a stranger, with strangers eyes,  took me to parts of the City - only a few hundred yards from the Gallery, that I had never seen before.

I don't want to give too much away at this point, and full documentation of the walk will follow soon, but as a taster, here are some of the things we were looking at.

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