I’m working on a presentation about further thoughts from my ‘Matriline’ walk:  Here is the text so far:

From Aristotle to Simon Armitage, walking has been seen by us sapient bipeds as an aid to reflection and creativity.  Sadly, as in so many fields, women’s contribution is under-acknowledged.  I am keen to demonstrate that, although there are, undoubtedly, obstacles to women inhabiting public space, it hasn’t stopped us.  For example, in his ‘On Walking’ Phil Smith includes a long list of contemporary women walking artists, in order to challenge received wisdom on women’s willingness to step out, and prominent feminist Rebecca Solnit writes wonderfully about the cultural history of walking.

In May 2016 I walked solo from Leeds to Newcastle, traversing my personal hinterland between present and past home cities, exploring themes of connection, separation, loss and change.  The walk was an inquiry into:  how walking supports creative practice;  how women inhabit space;  and the dynamic interaction between a human subject and a beloved landscape, emotionally, politically and aesthetically.

Hence, my walk was an exercise in feminist psychogeography, investigating how my gender, as well as my age (60-plus) and impairment (arthritic hip), framed my experience.  It provoked an exploration of the concept of hinterland- defined variously as: ‘behind the land’ (from the German); or, the area from which resources are drawn; or, the area beyond what is visible or known- as a metaphor for women’s beleaguered subjectivity.  In that respect I experienced the line I travelled as the ground on which I stand and the space within which I discover who I am. This personal aspect was inextricably linked to consideration of the lives of other women, both past and present, and with stories of human impact embedded in the landscape.

I need to develop these ideas further- it is a rich seam.


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