About two years ago I set off on a solo walk of 140 miles from my current home in Leeds, back to my childhood home, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. My mother still lives in Leeds but my daughter now lives in Newcastle with her family, including her daughter. The walk was for an MA in Creative Practice and was an exploration of female identity and the bonds of family especially along the ‘matri-line’ of four generations of mothers and daughters, all named Eleanor. The 2-week adventure was recorded and re-presented creatively in a range of ways- stories and images, maps, kinetic traces, rubbings, photographic prints- everything I could gather, from river water to pressed flowers, examples of which can be seen in the Walking Home post below.
My intention was to express the deep connection I feel to the magnificent North Country landscape that I walked across- my love of it as well as my anxiety about its future.
I also wanted to consider this experience from my particular point of view, as a 60-something solo female walker, dealing with pain and impairment from an arthritic hip. I was exploring my emotional hinterland and personal geography, looking for women’s stories, from the past recorded on gravestones, and the present, observing and talking with the women I met. While wandering around graveyards it occurred to me for the first time that my mother was born before women were fully enfranchised. I became aware of how things have changed for us over her lifetime. I was grateful for my personal freedom and agency. I wasn’t afraid for myself as a lone woman in these wonderful open spaces at any time on the walk, partly because women were everywhere, doing (almost) everything.
Although the days were wonderfully contemplative, my attention was also focused outwardly, noticing the landforms, human impact, the flora and fauna, the new life burgeoning in early summer. These were a constant reminder of memories, stories and experiences embedded in the places I passed through.
I am planning to show my work from the walk in the Gosforth Civic Theatre (very close to where I grew up) through July and August. The show, entitled Walking Home, will include all the art work from the Matri-line project displayed together, for the first and probably the last time.
Work will be available to buy. Other activities are being planned to run alongside.
Watch out for further posts for dates and details.