An online book of selected essays (ISBN: 978–1–906832–18–6) from the conference is available: Please Click here to view the e-book (double click on the cover and then use your cursor to turn the pages). Please be patient when accessing the e-book – on some computers it can take a short while to load! This e-book was designed by Lisa Sams – an MA student in Design at the University of Sunderland. The aim of the conference ‘On Walking’ was to provide artists, designers, anthropologists, architects, academics and others with an opportunity to present their ideas, proposals and findings about the role that walking plays in the way we understand and perceive the world. We were delighted that Tim Ingold was able to deliver a terrific key note paper (‘The Maze and the Labyrinth: Walking and the Education of Attention’ – copy of which can be found in the catalogue to ‘Walk On’ (click here to see an online copy of the catalogue) which both underlined and challenged current theories about the relationship between walking and being in the world; and we were thrilled that so many people attended the conference and presented stimulating and thought-provoking papers from around the world (from Canada, North America, South America, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, Hong Kong and Australia as well as throughout the UK).
The conference was genuinely multi-disciplinary, with contributions from practicing artists, designers and architects to academics from a broad cross-section of disciplines. It was timed to coincide with the exhibition ‘Walk On: Forty Years of Art Walking – From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff’ at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland.
Walk On was the first exhibition in the UK to examine the astonishingly varied ways in which artists since the late 1960s have used what would seem like a universal act – of taking a walk – as a means to create new types of art. Curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell (Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions), Alistair Robinson (NGCA) and Mike collier (W.A.L.K.), it included photography, film, and installation works, and brought together a diverse group of artists inspired by their travels on foot.
‘Walk On’ offered an as-yet-unwritten history of a major strand of recent art practice. It argued that from land art and conceptual art, and from street photography to the essay-film, an exceptionally wide range of artists have created their work from an act of walking, in the city or the land. These artists often acted as ‘explorers’, whether making their mark on the rural wilderness, documenting small journeys, or undertaking close examination of the urban environment around them.
The show provided a valuable context for the conference and was attended by all delegates on the evening of the first day when we treated to a tour of the show by artists Atul Bhalla , Brian Thompson, Bryndis Snæbjörnsdottir, Clare Qualmann (walkwalkwalk), Mark Wilson, Mike Collier, Rachael Clewlow, Wrights & Sites (Stephen Hodge, Simon Perseghetti, Cathy Turner, Phil Smith) followed by a wine reception, a talk by Tom Chivers, and a poetry reading by Alec Finlay.
There was a generosity of spirit that ran throughout the two days of the conference which ended with delegates suggesting that this was an event which should be followed up by establishing an international committee to begin the process of organising a bi-annual conference, ‘On Walking’, that would travel the world. More information about this initiative will be posted on the WALK website in due course.
We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all those who took part in this stimulating event and hope you enjoy reading the selected papers in the following pages of this online publication. Further, it our intention to produce an edited and selected group of essays in hard copy over the next two years. This book will be published by Art Editions North and distributed by Cornerhouse Publications (please click here for further information about Cornerhouse Publications and AEN)
Heather H. Yeung and Mike Collier