Putting one foot in front of the other on two of the routes that lead to Santiago de Compestela, shown at The Waking Path exhibition.
I recently went for a walk, a walk that thousands have also taken since the 10th century , a well worn path of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage in the 21st century has multiple meanings, but for me there is something that unites all of them, and that is the calling of a thirsty soul. The experience of the walk therefore was not just topographical, not just physical, but also had to do with the internal processes that occur with the act of sustained pedestrian movement through a landscape.
I went to walk things off, to meet with myself again devoid of all the trappings and the ‘stuff’ of life…and to get myself out of a time where it felt like my life and myself were dismantling around me. Never a pleasant space to inhabit, these times of flux have their functions, though they are deep and often hidden and so hard to track and make peace with. Finding my pace gives me peace.
There are many ways to navigate your way through the landscape- along The Camino de Santiago there are yellow arrows, there are of course maps and there is the knowledge of locals. An ancient means is by the stars, and so I used them as a vehicle to relate my experience.
I gathered the myriad of maps I picked up along El Camino and created an abstract of all the places I had rested, chatted, eaten and slept. With tracing paper I could overlay significant points, and so a beautiful visual form was given to the mapping of my route.
The plotting of significant points along the way created a constellation, a shimmer of significance scattered across an eternal night sky.
The final piece is a 4’ x 3’ lightbox, beautifully made, stained a deep grey to emphasise the grain of the wood used. As dusk falls, the box glows from within as the tiny drilled holes emit their light, and by day the holes are accompanied by white stars, partially drilled, that also correlate to points along the way.
It is currently on show as part of ‘The Waking Path: Responses to the Pilgrims Way’ at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Cornwall, UK.
Carrying a stone from the bottom of a hill to the top accesses something ancient- an act that speaks of hope, love, and purpose.
This is the beginnings of the Cairn, ‘Incremental: Tremenheere 2014′, at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Cornwall. I have been making it as part of an art event called “The Waking Path’, a collection of art works from several artists concerning journey, pilgrimage and place. Throughout the opening evening and the week after, I will ask visitors to take a stone from the bottom to the top, where the placement will generate another Cairn. There stone can represent a burden or a concern that they wish to leave behind at the top of the garden, or maybe it can represent a quality they wish to carry forward, to amplify in their lives.
There seems to be a deep human urge that is identified and satisfied by placing a stone in the landscape- an urge to make a mark, to leave something behind, to commemorate a moment, to ask for luck for the path ahead.
Mounds of stones are generated by this urge, and act as collected blessings, where each stone has been held and activated with meaning and intent by the person that placed it.
These mounds, that are found in almost every culture, act as points where interractions and flows are concentrated, given life as they are by the actions of many. They are memorials both to themselves and to those who added to them.