Flora of the River Don (on finding Salmon Pastures)

I walked to Salmon Pastures. A. told me he went to school and did his apprenticeship there. He explained how his father’s funeral cortège had travelled slowly along Carlisle Street and the men came out of the steelworks, doffing their caps as it passed.

To get there, I travelled by tram to Nunnery Square – a patchwork of car parks and police buildings, hemmed in by security fencing. I walked under railway arches, past carwashes and small factories, before crossing Norfolk Bridge (built in 1856) and taking a sharp right  along a small cobbled street to join the river.

An old man from Yemen was sitting on a bench watching the river crowfoot stream in long ribbons with the current. We talked for a few minutes and he told me how this is a good place. Quiet.



An area of outstanding unnatural beauty

Paul Dobraszczyk

1. Stanlow oil refinery by night1. Stanlow oil refinery by night

At the northern edge of the border between England and Wales the Manchester Ship Canal snakes its final miles along the southern banks of the River Mersey’s estuarine course to Liverpool. Hugging the edges of the Canal are the some of the remnants of England’s heavy industry, which once so dominated the entire area: from the Castner Kellner chemical works at Weston Point in Runcorn to the vast Stanlow oil refinery near Ellesmere Port – England’s second largest (1). Walking this area is a challenge as I found out one bright afternoon in late November: although there is a footpath through Runcorn’s petrochemical plants (2), it ends abruptly before one reaches the banks of the Ship Canal. One resident told me that the path had been blocked off and was now too overgrown; another warned me of a feral black panther that…

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Paul Allender on David Evans’ The Art of Walking: A Field Guide

As someone who has walked regularly since being a child, I initially approached this book with some scepticism. Walking as art? Yet another attempt by the cunning contemporary conceptual artist to re-appropriate everyday life as art, I thought.

However I soon got over this – the book is full of so many different ways of looking at and thinking and talking about walking that it drew me in. First impression highlights were an illustrated Norwegian map entitled Searching for Ludwig Wittgenstein, Regina José Galindo’s bloody footprints in Guatemala City, Bruce Nauman’s Slow Angle Walk, Jeremy Deller’s Manchester procession and Sophy Rickett’s photographs of women pissing in male postures in London streets. A definite lowlight for me was Franko B’s I Miss You – but I never could see the point of that performance.

So, on to a slightly more considered view of the book’s content. I love the old-fashioned feel of the first 7 pages – Peter Liversidge’s very familiar typewriter-written pithy proposals. And his suggestion, adopted by the editor, of having 5 empty pages at the back of the book for readers’ notes is lovely.

This book is comprehensive. It is divided into 7 sections: Footprints and Lines, Writers and Philosophers, Marches and Processions, Aliens, Dandies and Drifters, Slapstick, Studios, Museums and Biennales and Dog Walkers. One of the quite elusive and intangible ways in which I like or don’t like or feel indifferent about books is their ‘feel’. This one definitely has a good feel. It combines photographs, texts, drawings, newspaper clippings, maps, diagrams and artworks in a way which resembles a meandering walk on a day when there is no pressure to get there.

I was lucky to see an exhibition of Regina José Galindo’s Who Can Erase The Traces?  Its inclusion in this book brought back the memory of seeing the film of her walking the streets of Guatemala City barefoot and stopping every now and then to step into a basin filled with blood so that she leaves a trail of bloody footprints, representing the thousands of civilians murdered by the army over decades. It is a very powerful performance.

I don’t know that much about Bruce Nauman’s work but Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk) of 1968 has whetted my appetite for more. He writes: “If you see yourself as an artist and you function in a studio and you’re not a painter…if you don’t start out with some canvas, you do all kinds of things-you sit in a chair or pace around.” The black and white photograph is a beautiful blurred image of him doing just that, walking in a studio in a posture of angles.

Jeremy Deller’s Procession combines processors from different walks of life in Manchester: Scout and Guide marching bands; former mill workers; dancers; players of exotic instruments; mobile libraries; Stretford Rose Queens; the Ramblers Association; Gay City Strollers; mascots from all of the local football teams; The Unrepentant Smokers and many others, all brought together to celebrate the ‘strange glory’ of Manchester. I wish I had been there.

There is no written commentary on the three black and white photographs of women hitching up their skirts and pissing like men, their knees bent, in the streets of London by Sophy Rickett in 1995. They are simply entitled Old Street, Vauxhall Bridge and Silvertown and are strangely seductive while opening up so many questions: why are they doing it?; how are they doing it?; are the pictures a comment on the City and its buildings, symbolic of financial capital, or on the behaviour of men in the streets or both or neither? They are fascinating, enigmatic pictures which open up a space for thought and discussion.

Finally, for this review, Richard Long’s famous A Line Made by Walking of 1969 is treated as slapstick by the curator Dieter Roelstraete in 2010. He associates it with the deadpan ‘dumb’ humour of Samuel Beckett and Buster Keaton. Interesting.

The Art Of Walking, a field guide is a great book. Great to dip into and great to read and great to look at the pictures. If you like walking and art and you can afford the price, £16.95, buy it.

Paul Allender, 2013.


David Evans (2013), The Art of Walking: A Field Guide. Black Dog Publishing: London, £16.95

Buy The Art of Walking here.

Walk thoughts

The building that bears the sandwiches sign is the headquarters of a local skip company. Terry and I peer around the back, where a skip was being emptied by the truck that had just brought it in. On the ground, a jumble of debris: the limbs of trees, breeze blocks, fat meringues of solidified pink plaster, bits of carpet and kitchen cupboards. From the vantage point of an adjacent roof, however, we can see an order in the chaos. A pile of electrical equipment and white household goods; garden waste and building waste. We talk to a woman who appears in the window. Her husband’s great grandfather was a rag and bone man and the business has been here since then, moving into the current premises when the terraced house at the back of the yard became too dilapidated to work in anymore. It’s still used for storage.


Continuous Cities 1

(From Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities)

The city of Leonia refashions itself every day: every morning the people wake between fresh sheets, wash with just-unwrapped cakes of soap, wear brand-new clothing, take from the latest model refrigerator still unopened tins, listening to the last-minute jingles from the most up-to-date radio.

On the sidewalks, encased in spotless plastic bags, the remains of yesterday’s Leonia await the garbage truck.   Not only squeezed rubes of toothpaste, blown-out light bulbes, newspapers, containers, wrappings, but also boilers, encyclopedias, pianos, porcelain dinner services. It is not so much by the things that each day are manufactured, sold, bought that you can measure Leonia’s opulence, but rather by the things that each day are thrown out to make room for the new.   So you begin to wonder if Leonia’s true passion is really, as they say, the enjoyment of new and different things, and not, instead, the joy of expelling, discarding, cleansing itself of a recurrent impurity.   The fact is that street cleaners are welcomed like angels, and their task of removing the residue of yesterday’s existence is surrounded by a respectful silence, like a ritual that inspires devotion, perhaps only because once things have been cast off nobody wants to have to think about them further.

Nobody wonders where, each day, they carry their load of refuse.   Outside the city, surely; but each year the city expands, and the street cleaners have to fall farther back.   The bulk of the outflow increases and the piles rise higher, become stratified, extend over a wider perimeter.   Besides, the more Leonia’s talent for making new materials excels, the more the rubbish improves in quality, resists time, the elements, fermentations, combustions.   A fortress of indestructible leftovers surrounds Leonia, dominating it on every side, like a chain of mountains.

This is the result: the more Leonia expels goods, the more it accumulates them; the scales of its past are soldered into a cuirass that cannot be removed.   As the city is renewed each day, it preserves all of itself in its only definitive form: yesterday’s sweepings piled up on the sweepings of the day before yesterday and of all its days and years and decades.

Leonia’s rubbish little by little would invade the world, if, from beyond the final crest of its boundless rubbish heap, the street cleaners of other cities were not pressing, also pushing mountains of refuse in front of themselves.   Perhaps the whole world, beyond Leonia’s boundaries, is covered by craters of rubbish, each surrounding a metropolis in constant eruption.   The boundaries between the alien, hostile cities are infected ramparts where the detritus of both support each other, overlap, mingle.

The greater its height grows, the more the danger of a landslide looms: a tin can, an old tire, an unraveled wine flask, if it rolls toward Leonia, is enough to bring with it an avalanche of unmated shoes, calendars of bygone years, withered flowers, submerging the city in its own past, which it had tried in vain to reject, mingling with the past of the neighboring cities, finally clean.   A cataclysm will flatten the sordid mountain range, canceling every trace of the metropolis always dressed in new clothes.   In the nearby cities they are all ready, waiting with bulldozers to flatten the terrain, to push into the new territory, expand, and drive the new street cleaners still farther out.

Source: http://astro.temple.edu/~sdrury/iteramedia2004/calvino.htm

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk: Introduction

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (2 hours)


The exact boundary of Upperthorpe, and of the ‘Upperthorpe Project’, had begun to concern me. Although boundaries are arbitrary, limiting, even harmful as in partition, discussions and postings had taken an elastic view of its shape, and gone round and round in circles.

What better then than to act out this circularity, and thereby have to follow a fixed version of its circumference?

This walk then, uses the invisible boundary of the Council defined ‘Neighbourhood’ of Upperthorpe.

For a map of the Upperthorpe boundary, click here.

So this Upperthorpe also includes a lot of Philadelphia, Birkendale, and over the quietly flowing Don, Neepsend, where nobody seems to live. And inexplicable rectangular street-shaped retreats and annexations.

The map above reveals two images, the distant pseudopodia of Neepsend shaped like a diving fish, the proximal part a straight edged cubist camel.  And indeed they do have very different characters.

It doesn’t include Wardsend Cemetery, Hillsborough, the city morgue on Watery Street, the Barracks, or the Old Royal Infirmary. Not that Upperthorpe has been spared traumatic death. Air-raid victims, down by the river drownings in the Great Sheffield flood; and a recent tragedy right beneath its eyes.

For no particular reason the route is anticlockwise, keeping Upperthorpe always on the left. Circumambulation can be ritualistic, classically in  biblical Jericho, circled six times in silence, with a final circuit of shouting and the blowing of rams-horns, the birth of free jazz. But no ill will is intended in this walk, no education, and no patronization, just voyeurism.

The walk was tested with a companion on the last day of January 2012, mid-morning in cold weather. At other times of day, in other seasons, it could have been very different. We took no cameras, sound recording equipment, notebooks, or sketch-books. We had a street map and a passing interest. And a vague artistic notion.

This guide is entirely subjective and full of inaccuracy.

Eddy Dreadnought   2012

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (Eddy Dreadnought)

Over the next few weeks, artist Eddy Dreadnought will post a series of walking guides to Upperthorpe.

The sections will be as follows:

Upperthorpe Perimeter Round Walk (2 hours)


Section 1  Albion Street to the Brain Injury Rehab

Section 2  Pennsylvania to Parkwood Karting

Section 3  Club Mill to the Buddhist Centre via Mecca

Section 4  Possible extensions-: Upperthorpe epicentre

:Upperthorpe googling tour

:A vertical driving route


Eddy Dreadnought 2012