2021 port walking

Port | Limáni

In collaboration with 'Walking as a Question' (Walking Encounters/Conference, Prespa, Greece), Art Walk Projects is producing this project, forming the first in a series of walking based 'Port' events which will research and pair a number of distanced locations to Portobello, through walking.

The Walking Encounters/Conference, raises walking as a question in itself, to invite critical and artistic engagement with the limits and possibilities of this most everyday of modalities. Borders and checkpoints curtail walking. Dog companions stimulate a stroll. People have been forcibly marched to new territories.

PORT | Limáni sets out to practice, and test, a set of experimental walking methodologies within peripheral spaces in Edinburgh and within the Prespa region (Greece). Edinburgh (UK) based artists, Deirdre Macleod and Stephanie Whitelaw will each conduct separately, a set of repeated walks through peripheral areas in Portobello Edinburgh with which they are relatively unfamiliar and which have a liminal quality to them, by virtue of becoming derelict, experiencing land use change or being, in some way, ‘unregulated’ spaces which experience a range of human and animal uses.

The aim of these repeated walks will be to explore how different, but connected, artistic responses can help us understand these ‘difficult’ spaces, whilst at the same time helping the artist manage their experience and feelings of walking through them. Stephanie will make experimental object-based responses to space and place during her walk. Deirdre will use forms of experimental drawing as the basis of her responses to walking slowly along her route. Both artists through this project are seeking to test whether and how these methodologies enable us to ‘gather in’ experience and meaning from these spaces and places: hence the reference to ‘limani’ in the project title, which, as well as meaning ‘port’ in modern Greek, means ‘harvest’ in Arabic and Persian.

Individuals attending the Prespa meeting, and interested walking artists in and around Portobello, or further afield, are invited to engage in this experimental walking methodology by following the written instruction texts below from Deirdre and Stephanie describing their planned ‘response methodologies’. Interested individuals will be invited to conduct their own walk in the weeks leading up to the Prespa event and to document a reflective response in the form of a short text and images. The new Art Walk Projects walking app ‘Walksy’ also provides a method for participants to collect and record their walking experiences (Downloadable from AppStore & GooglePlay).

About the Artists: 

Deirdre Macleod – Deirdre’s artistic practice sits between contemporary art and the discipline of human geography. She uses a range of fieldwork methods and observational strategies to reveal and frame material and experiential aspects of cities, using drawing and movement to explore human relationships to space and place. Deirdre is a Teaching Fellow in Art at the Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh. deirdre-macleod.com

Stephanie Whitelaw – Stephanie cultivates through her art practice personal engagements with local landscapes, both physical and digital, cultivating a deeper sense of understanding. Exploring themes of reciprocity, her work harnesses dialogue with nature in both urban and rural contexts, through walking, site-responsive art and object making. stephaniewhitelaw.co.uk




We invite you to take part in a series of three, short, repeated walks to a place of your choosing in your local area. We would like you to walk to a place that is in some sense difficult to be in, perhaps because it is unfamiliar to you or because it is peripheral, geographically or socially. Your walk should start from the same place each time and take no longer than 30 minutes.

The aim of these repeated walks will be to explore whether, and how, different artistic responses can help you understand these ‘difficult’ spaces, helping you ‘gather in’ experience and meaning from these places. At the same time, these artistic responses might also help you, the artist, manage your experience and feelings of walking through these spaces and places.

We offer two experimental methodologies for you to use as you walk. You may choose to explore either or both of these methodologies.

Both methodologies invite you to shape a walk through your altering of pace, listening and focus, responding through drawing / material assembling.

After you have made your walks using your chosen, or both, methodologies, write a short note reflecting on your experience of using them and include some images of your drawings or object-based responses. Please send your note to: deirdre.macleod@hotmail.co.uk by the end of the day, Monday 5th July.

You will be invited to meet with us to reflect on your experiences of walking using these methodologies on Zoom at 4pm on Wednesday 7 July 2021. Zoom meeting details will follow.

*We ask that you are aware of the health and safety of your chosen environment, taking care of your wellbeing and safety as you walk. *

Methodology one: Slow walking and drawing
Take a small sketchbook and a pen or pencil. Wear clothes and shoes appropriate to the weather and to your environment.

Walk 1
Walk slowly as you can along the route that you have chosen. Look, listen, take in your surroundings and those who surround you. Reflect on how you feel as you walk….do you feel comfortable...do you want to hide...do you feel exposed by walking somewhere that you do not know well? Draw when you feel you want to...or need to...in any way you want to.

Walk 2
Walk even more slowly along the same route that you walked before. Do not try to reach the same destination point as on your first walk - just settle into this very slow pace. Look, listen, take in your surroundings and those who surround you. Notice what you missed on your first walk. Reflect on how you feel walking at this slower pace. Draw when you feel you want to...or need to...in any way that you want to.

Walk 3
Walk as slowly as you can along this same route. Again, do not try to reach the same destination point as on your second walk - just accept this extremely slow pace. Notice what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling on your skin. Reflect on how you feel walking at this, possibly, uncomfortable pace. Draw when you feel you want to...or need to...in any way that you want to.

Methodology two: walking, responding and assembling
Please wear clothes and shoes appropriate to the weather and to your environment. You might like to also bring gloves for gathering your materials.

Walk 1, 2 and 3 (You are invited to walk your route three times, returning to, exploring and deepening your understanding and experience of this place) The walks invite you to step into a conversation with your surroundings. Slowing down so you are able to observe the interplay between living and non living life forms. How would you like to respond/ tend to and play with your environment?

As you walk, begin by slowing your pace. Taking in what you are able to observe at a gentle pace. Sensing beneath with micro-movements. Can you observe the environment differently? Slowly easing into the outside, taking your time. Allow things to arrive for you. Allow the visuals , sounds and forms to reveal themselves.

What is here for you? Observe the others who pass you - human and non human. Are subtleties revealing themselves to you? Press your feet into the ground. Can you hear your feet? And the sound of contact as you move? What forms exist around you? Living or non living or both?

Gather your materials along the way. What are you drawn to? Are they natural or man made? Living or discarded? These materials are an echo and expression of place. Is there a shape/form/ colour that catches your eye? Allow yourself to be drawn to points of interest. Find a space along the path, this might be a clearing; somewhere set aside from the path in some way. Respond to the space with your materials. Play with what is already here, you might like to respond to a living life form such as a weed, a marking on the ground or an edge point.

Assemble your material(s) in a way that responds and relates to the space. You are invited to use any materials you find along your path as a way to dialogue with your environment, using the materials as a way to respond to what is already here. To gently intervene, not to dismantle or harm the space you walk through. Play Leave what you create, as a trace, as a temporal marking of your experience with the environment you have walked through.

Return and repeat your route, twice again with the same methodology. Adding to your space with new materials each time. Afterwards, reflect on each walk, each experience and interaction, how does this exchange affect your relation/familiarity with the space?

Please take photographs of your assembled materials during the walk and any other photographs of the walk itself.