Saturday, 17 December 2011

The shape of a walk

The shapes of walks can be beautiful.

If you draw a simple line as a map of the walk you have taken, each walk has its shape and the shape has a character.

An urban walk will look very different from a rural walk.

An old city pattern will look different from a newer city structure.

When I worked in California as part of the artists' group CoLab, we worked at a place called Weedpatch.  One of the first things I did before leaving England to visit Weedpatch was to draw a map of the Bakersfield area from the satellite photograph.  This was my first impression of Bakersfield, knowing very little of it before we went, and the squares seemed so strange to me, being used to the more random networks of ancient roads around which the UK has developed.  The grid system of towns in the USA only started to make sense after a few weeks of driving around that town, and trying to relate that experience to the grid map I had first drawn.

Here is the shape of the walk we are creating for Sidelong.  A circular urban walk in Nottingham.  A much older structure of streets and pathways:  short detours of small cobbled walkways mixed with stretches of longer, straighter arterial routes.

I can't remember lists of instructions, like when you ask somebody for directions.  When I go to a place unfamiliar to me, which happens very often with the number of site visits I do for various projects, I have to draw a simplified version of the route as a line like this, something which I can then remember as a visual image.  As I find my route, all I have to do is follow that visual line in my mind's eye.  It seems to work, somehow, I don't get lost that often!

I love the first lines drawn when creating a map.  The linear quality which begin to suggest contours, structures to navigate around, movement through a space, without location or any indication of features.  The line just represents the abstract movement of the body through space.
Preliminary sketch for one of the Myth Maps

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