Folkestone Caravan and Camping Site
Tuesday 23rd October 2012
Walk 26 – Circular Route near Hythe (25 miles)
After arriving in Folkestone my documenter and I made our way to the Caravan and Camping site which is a four mile walk from the starting point of the gallery.
The area was filled with thick fog which was a hindrance before even starting the task, it made it difficult to see signs or problematic terrain. This weather lasted for two of the days and the wind was strong, luckily the rain held off except at night. We camped throughout to keep the costs down which went well, apart from for having to carry the tent and all that goes with it. It didn’t put us off though and we completed all of the tasks I had set out to complete.
Strange Cargo, Folkestone
Starting at Strange Cargo in Folkestone we were warmly greeted by Brigitte the director of the gallery who allowed us to rest our feet before beginning the voyage ahead. When the time came to leave we headed towards Hythe following the coastal path for the majority of the way. (Leaving at 10am).
Hythe town centre
From Hythe we headed towards West Hythe and then on to Lympne.
The most significant aspect of this particular walk was that on a number of the bridleways there were new signs made by Hythe & Folkestone Council stating – no horses, no motorbikes, no bicycles – which is unfortunate for a path specifically created for bridleway use. Interestingly Stewart and the other contributors to the Bridleways of Britain predict this being the bridleways’ future.
The walk, due to its many changes was extremely difficult and the only coordination was provided by following the Royal Military Canal path for a large part of the journey. Historically it was very educational and along the way continued to provide the walker with facts about the path and canal.
Sections of the route did allow for horse riders, but these were so short and segregated from the route that I feel it would probably be more hassle than it’s worth for a rider to have brought their horse all that way for no more than two miles of bridleway.
Finally my documenter and I managed to follow most of the path provided by the book, passing some interesting places such as Lympne Wildlife Park where we saw a lion laying on the grass. Disappointingly we didn’t manage to see any horses though at times there was evidence that they had been there.
Once off the bridleway we made our way to the train station, hoping to reach Hamstreet we found ourselves a few miles away having taken a wrong turn. Eventually we found a pub where the bar lady helped us get us a taxi to Ashford train station. From there we journeyed to Seaford in order to reach the next campsite. (Arriving just before 9pm – completing 18 miles on foot).
Seaford Buckle Caravan and Camping Site
Wednesday 24th October 2012
Walk 8 – The South Downs Way (75 miles)
After resting at the campsite in Seaford we begun our travels from Bishopstone both with severe blisters and sore backs, we continued our journey towards Brighton. After spending some time there we moved on to Lancing where our final stay would be. This part of the experience was very difficult due to the problems I had walking, however we carried on and eventually made it to our destination.
Wednesday 24th October 2012
The walk proved to be worth the pain as we were greeted by many horses. The campsite was framed by an Equestrian Centre, fields filled with horses that were only too happy to be documented.
Many of the bridleways in the area remain however; much of it does go through roads and villages which have expanded their tarmacked areas over time. Although this is a shame like the problems shown in Hythe it is not nearly as concerning a problem due to the presence of the Equestrian Centre.
We were unable to complete this walk with our timeframe but will be returning to it. (22.5 miles completed).
This swan tried to attack our tent
Horses! The Barn Caravan and Camping Site in Lancing
The next day we needed to get to Worthing to catch the coach home, we started our journey at 6.30am and arrived in the town with plenty of time spare, however it is was too difficult to find our coach stop. We asked many passersby with no luck other than the wrong direction as well as this there were no taxi’s in sight to be of assistance. Worthing is a very large place with very few signs showing where to go within the town (it only seemed to tell you how to get out). We missed the coach to London and subsequently found ourselves on an unexpected adventure. We had very little money or understanding of where we were. However, we found a bus that could take us to Crawley and managed to get a train to Victoria station from there. Interestingly the bus journey took us through much of the walk we had been unable to complete in the time frame; it went straight through Washington and passed Horsham. This allowed me to assess the terrain of that walk which is very much filled with small country roads without footpaths or pavement.
I am really looking forward to the next stage; the plan is to complete the Welsh walks in November, the Suffolk and Norfolk walks in December and to return to the south in the New Year.
The aim is to complete a series of performance walks following the map provided in the book, The Bridleways of Britain.
For the past year I have been working on the project titled Horse Woman, making a number of performances and have kept a blog which documents the various happenings.
My aim at this stage is to complete a series of performance walks following the Equestrian trails provided in ‘The Bridleways of Britain.’ Previously I have completed some walks as part of this project but upon discovering this book I feel it provides a strong guide to the Equestrian lifestyle that I am attempting to engage with. I feel that by following the guidelines provided in the book my performances will be have a continued learning process into the notion of walking as performance, focusing on duration, audience and collaborative ideologies and significantly, the importance of history within communities. I have attached a copy of the map provided by the book which displays the walks I intend to follow. The work will be touring from town to town listed in the book, the work takes place along public bridleways and paths rather than venues, however it does begin at Strange Cargo, Folkestone an Art Space that has agreed to support the making of the work. The book takes its reader through a number of bridleways throughout Britain, which include disused paths, as well as paths that have been used for centuries by both horse riders and tradesmen. The walks are written by people who are keen horse riders.
I propose the project to take six months; there are twenty-seven walks in total each of varying length. Each walk will be documented, posted onto a blog and written about. The blog I intend to use is https://martinavermorel.wordpress.com/ which I have used to document and research Horse Woman throughout the past year. As well as this Strange Cargo have agreed to show some of the work on their website.
Synopsis – Horse Woman:
Horse Woman is a story about a woman who falls in love with a horse. She loves the horse so much that over time her treatment of the horse begins to border on neglect. Horse Woman looks at the relationship between animal and human, the differences, similarities and actions taken.
The story climaxes with the horses death as it accidentally jumps off a cliff whilst trying to run away, as the woman has completely isolated herself from everyone and everything it is up to her to move the horses body and dispose of it.
Horse Woman, is a multi layered piece that carries a complex investigation into the mind of a young woman. The relationship between the woman and the horse has become so convoluted that it becomes difficult to tell which is woman and which is horse, or if the horse or woman exist at all. Horse Woman delivers a story of madness, isolation and obsession.
Horse Woman – The Walks, explores duration which is a central to my Arts Practice. I have become increasingly curious about working with duration in the context of a gallery space, my previous works have often been silent and viewers watch the work unfold over a period of hours or days. This piece pushes these notions further; the work takes place outside in a public domain which pushes myself as the artist to investigate communication between the audience and the artist. Horse Woman – The Walks, seeks to learn more about my own boundaries and deals with dialogue between performer and viewer.
The costume worn provides a sense of familiarity to many, especially those who are do not usually engage with the arts. There is an understanding of who might wear such an outfit and this provides an instant discourse between artist and viewer.
Potentially the audience could walk with me, but I have decided not to rely on this partaking as understandably many of these walks are very long and it may not be viable for people to take part. However as mentioned earlier the maps provided both physically and online will allow people to decide for themselves as they will be able to clearly see where I will be walking and when.
Upon completion of the work, future engagement can be met online using the blog as a tool to view the work from beginning to end. I also intend to create a book of the walks which would allow future audiences who are interested in the work but unfortunately missed it at the time to view the images taken alongside text of both the story and discussion of the project.
Strange Cargo Art Space, Folkestone have agreed to support these performances by showing some work from the project so far as well as providing a starting point to the walks. This will allow the community in Folkestone to be aware of the quest, maps will be provided to the audience members as well as being available in the gallery as a handout and on their notice board. This map will tell the viewers when and where I intend to walk and will also provide an explanation, including a link to the blog on the back of the leaflet, allowing them the opportunity to follow my journey. I will also be handing these maps out on the way, giving them to campsite owners and passersby.
Although this is a solo performance, the collaboration between the Art Space and I are central to the works progress. Their role will see that local communities are aware of the work creating a discourse which seeks to engage with both Arts Practitioners and the Audience. As the work is taking place primarily outside it is important to have a platform that can instruct various audiences when and where the work is taking place. Importantly, Horse Woman – The Walks will actively engage with people who have little or no engagement with arts activity as well as those who do. Some areas are deep in the countryside where there are few or no arts organisations nearby, therefore this work will engage with audiences who rarely see arts activities, especially Live Art based works.
The project Horse Woman has shown to successfully complete a series of works over the past year, prior to this I have continuously worked in the Arts, showing works publically and engaging with new audiences and ideas. I am confident that my past experiences of creating performances that have at times lasted for up to a month, working in a space every day, shows that I can successfully complete the task of following these walks.
The action of walking from town to town, talking to those who ask questions and staying at campsites all deal with public engagement as well as this the online blog and documentation will provide a dialogue that can be looked upon discrepantly or through commenting or emailing myself online creating an open dialogue, these exchanges will help build an evaluation of the project as it is taking place.
I have and will continue to evaluate the project on my blog, at this stage I been contextualising my work and discussing ideas and assessing outcomes. I intend to maintain this practice during and after the walks are completed. Evaluation is as important an activity in the development of my work as research is.
I will be looking at, public engagement – talking to audiences, walking, performing. Duration – how it is affecting both me and the work. Documentation – how the performance works when it becomes a video or photograph. Documenter – will he become part of the work? Given that he is walking as much as I am? How does this affect the works outcome? Future outcome possibilities? What happens when it all ends? These are the questions I will be thinking of and answering throughout the project, this will all be available on the blog which will be updated as the project is happening and beyond.
Feedback and answers to these queries will be provided through observation (public engagement, personal judgment), dialogue (audience communication, documenter observations).
The Bridleways of Britain, Annable Whittet, 1986, Whittet Books.
Performance Walking Documenation – Suffolk to Norfolk, using FujiFilm 14mp Digital Camera.
Fragmentos de pequeños pensamientos, 2011
Horse Woman – Woman Horse, Performance, Duration 1 1/2 Hours, Division of Labour, Malvern.