Slow Coast 500

Claudia Zeiske

2023 Tourism Vessel Walking

Claudia Zeiske’s Slow Coast 500 is a long-distance walk from Dunnet Head to Berwick-upon-Tweed along the entire coast of the North Sea in Scotland.

CLAUDIA ZEISKE’S Slow Coast 500 is a long-distance walk from Dunnet Head to Berwick-upon-Tweed along the entire coast of the North Sea in Scotland. The project borrows its name from the North Coast 500 route designed to attract tourists to drive around northern Scotland. Slow Cost 500 considers the role of tourism in making (or breaking) places. Often intended as a boost to local economies, tourism can contribute to problems for local communities and their environment. 

Throughout the walk, Zeiske uses existing routes and explores new ones. Along the way, she carries an orange tablecloth the colour of an OS ‘Explorer’ map, using it as a picnic blanket to encourage conversation. Step by step and stitch by stitch, Zeiske is embroidering it along the long way to the Scottish-English border, questioning the role and impacts of tourism today. Zeiske is also sending a daily postcard home to Art Walk Projects in Portobello.

As part of the 2023 Art Walk Porty Festival visitors met Claudia at Cramond Causeway joining her for the final stretch of the walk to Portobello, followed by a discussion at the Art Walk Hub to view her exhibition.

Claudia also led a workshop based on the orange tablecloth that she has carried throughout her coastal walk from Thurso and embroidered daily. Participants were given a piece of orange cloth on which to embroider a path of importance to them.

Claudia Zeiske is a walking curator, whose interest lies in path-making as a cultural practice. With friendship at heart, her walks combine a desire for a slower pace of life with socio-politically and environmentally sensitive issues. For more than a decade, her walking art projects have varied from short to long, in her vicinity or further afield, connecting places, communities and people along the way. Her walking prose promotes thinking aloud.

Projects include: Walking Lunches (2010-ongoing a play on corporate working lunches; Home to Home (2017), a Brexit-stimulated 1,800-mile walk from the artist’s home in Huntly, Aberdeenshire to her childhood home in Bavaria, Germany; Slow Marathons (2012-ongoing), annual themed group walks, questioning the competitive nature of marathons; and From Mountain to Sea (2022), a 150-mile walk across Aberdeenshire to mark the Covid period.

Embroidery Workshop with Claudia Zeiske (September 2023) – Photo: Ellie J McMaster


July 2023 Public walk with participants from Timespan, Helmsdale
August 2023 Public walk with participants from Forgan Art Centre (Carnoustie to St Andrews)

September 2023 during Art Walk Porty:
VESSEL Group Exhibition, Art Walk Hub Portobello High Street
VESSEL Group Exhibition, mote102 Ferry Rd Leith

Slow Coast 500 Welcome to Portobello – participatory walk Cramond to Portobello, followed by in-conversation at Art Walk Hub
Tablecloth Embroidery workshop, Art Walk Hub

November 2023:
Claudia Zeiske talk hosted by Walk. Listen. Create – in conversation with Andrew Stuck, founder of the Museum of Walking

February 2024:
Journey Lines: Making and Breaking Places – talk and discussion with Tim Ingold (anthropologist) and Ben Twist (Director, Creative Carbon Scotland).
St Mark’s Church, Portobello

Journey Lines brought together discussion around path making and place making, to consider tourism and access along our coast lines. Discussing how we consider the role of tourism in making (or breaking) places, Zeiske gave an illustrated talk about her long-distance 700 mile walk Slow Coast 500.

In conversation with anthropologist Tim Ingold, we heard about his ideas of the Coastline, discussing socio-ecological approaches to anthropology, drawing connections with walking, weaving, and storytelling, to consider the impacts on the environment and community for path and place-making. 

Chaired by Ben Twist (Director, Creative Carbon Scotland), the event also brought together representatives from different coastal path locations on the North Sea coast, as well as tourism and place making strategies.

View recording here
Images: Alice Mainstone