An Artist Walk is a development of the shamanic medicine walk described in post 1. Ways of Working, and it involves opening up awareness whist walking, allowing sensations to arise, and following intuition (roaming and drifting), whilst holding an intention. Another way of putting it could be Purposeful Meandering.
It is similar to the practice of mindfulness in that:
Rather than making sense of the contents of our experience, mindfulness directs our receptive awareness to the moment-by-moment process of experiencing.
(Wallin, 2007: 159)
My intention for this Artist Walk is to understand something about my relationship to dying.
I do not know what will happen but if something does it may inform my creative practice and find it’s way into my paintings.
On a damp day in early February I arrive at the car park opposite the Half Moon Café, a small building beside a storage warehouse in the shadow of two vast Nuclear Power Stations (Heysham Power Station 1 and Heysham Power Station 2). The café overlooks a beach that stretches out to the horizon meeting little waves, dabbing at the sand.
A bitter wind blows off the beach. It is not a day to linger about in.
After about 10 minutes I come to a doorway in a wall and walk through into what might have been a walled garden. Someone has carved a step into a large rock. Could it be the same person who carved the graves? I slip into a reverie about the person and call them the Rock Hewer. I wonder about their tools and how the metal in the chisel was wrought.
Further along the path I come to the remains of a chapel with an arched doorway. A man sits on a protruding stone, leaning his back against the chapel wall. He is wearing a bobble hat with a Christmas pudding design on it and is holding a white plastic bag. I find the stone-carved graves nearby and look at them while the man stares out accross the sands. Eventually I ask him if he comes here often. He tells me he is looking at the place he visited yesterday. He was in Barrow–in–Furness on the other side of the bay just yesterday, looking back at this spot. He is working in Morecambe and has come to visit on his lunch break. He knows nothing about the graves.
Soon after, he gets up and walks away with his plastic bag.
I decide to walk back on the beach, but have a sense of danger and intend to stay close to the shoreline. (Half Moon Bay is part of an expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand, where quicksand is common, and the tide can come in “as fast as a galloping horse”.)
Just to put my feet on the sand feels unsettling and low lying rocks, covered in bladderwrack seaweed push me further out than feels safe. After walking quite a distance my anxiety is rising as I am faced with choosing to go around another large area of bladderwrack, or turn back. I am also aware that I feel desperately alone out there on a beach that may begin to swallow me.
At this point I see footprints in the sand heading in the direction I want to go.
They seem to have appeared out of nowhere and I find them immensely reassuring. The anxiety melts away and a feeling of being accompanied by those that have gone before travels through my body. I follow the footprints around the seaweed and can see my way back to solid ground.
Along the grassy walkway above the beach is a row of benches and a lone figure sits there, staring out to sea. As I get closer I realize it’s the Christmas Pudding Hat man.
This man appears to me to be utterly alone and not at all on his lunch break or about to go back to his job. My heart goes out to him.
In the distance, I notice there is a ferry just leaving the harbour.