Visual Arts in Rural Communities (VARC), in association with Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions and WALK, organised a public art-walking event at VARC at Highgreen, Tarset, Northumberland. This event was being co-curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell and Janet Ross as part of Walk On, a season of Art-Walking events throughout the North East of England in the summer of 2013.

Selected artists include; Atul Balla, Sarah Cullen, Chris Drury, Tim Knowles, Simon Pope, Ingrid Pollard, Mike Collier & Brian Thompson

Morrison-Bell and Ross said that ‘This two-day participatory event will focus on what might be called ‘art-walks’ – performances or events in which leading artists work directly with audiences and participants. Each walk will be led by an artist who uses different media to explore how walking alters perceptions of the place or site, and of the self. We have selected a panoramic range of artists to represent the different modes of engagement with walking. They work with or through sound, words, choreographed movement/performance, installation, architectural interventions, and through day and night time activity. In each instance, the direct involvement of the public is key’.

The artist-curated and led walks were complemented by a programme of other walks, related activities, and events that illuminated what walking as a ‘medium’ for creating artworks means in the twenty first century – please click on the box more information below the images on this page. 

For this event I initially wanted to produce ten large-scale banners to hang in the Barn at Highgreen. These were to be approx. eight-foot x one-foot each. The images above were tests I worked on. The text for the pieces was to be based on birds seen on the final walk I did in 2011 when I walked up the Tyne and the North Tyne, finishing at Tarset (a walk funded by VARC). However, I soon realised that this proposed work might be too dominant in such a lovely space, and after a few more visits to the barn, I decided to develop the work which became ‘Field Notes’ (see Summer Walk up the Tyne) – still based around the flora and fauna seen and heard on the VARC walk in 2011. I felt that this new work would be much more sympathetic to the space in the barn (an opportunity which comes only rarely to an artist!).

I led a short walk (with natural historian Keith Bowey)/colour workshop using locally-produced artists’ pastels whose 400-colour range, Unison Pastels, was created by artist John Hursey, and inspired directly by walking in the surrounding landscape. I also chaired a panel discussion about Walking Art  with participating artists and other academics as well as interested visitors to the event.

All photos copyright Mark Pinder

The following events complemented the programme at Highgreen:

  • a short walk/colour workshop using locally-produced artists’ pastels whose 400 colour range, Unison Pastels was created by artist John Hursey, and inspired directly by walking in the surrounding landscape led by myself
  • 6 x 10’   an hour-long walk divided into ten-minute slots during which time individuals with a particular walking experience or story can give shape to their narrrative in words, song, and/or images
  • a walk/activity led by a local farmer who walks many miles daily as part of a working life caring for livestock on the surrounding hills
  • a panel discussion about Walking Art chaired by Dr Mike Collier of WALK research unit at the University of Sunderland with participating artists and other academics as well as interested visitors to the event
  • Selected artworks displayed in barns and outside spaces around Highgreen during the event and for a two-week period afterwards

Further information on VARC