I have always loved reading: as a child I was a voracious reader, thinking nothing of reading a book from cover to cover in one go (kept me quiet for hours!) This love has stayed with me; there’s nothing quite like opening a book for the first time to discover the delights within! I will probably have two books on the go – one quite ‘deep’, whilst the other will be somewhat ‘lighter’ in nature – my mood determining which I read!
At present, I am reading just the one – Robert MacFarlane’s ‘The Old Ways’.
In his book MacFarlane combines walking and the landscape, with history and discovery, all told in such descriptive language that I am loathe to put the book down! Following paths, tracks – holloways made by man or weather – he investigates the landscape, learns the stories of our ancestors and meets the people who walk these paths, who have such a connection to the landscape that they are not just in the landscape but part of it.
MacFarlane describes his travels in a poetic, lyrical way, reminiscent of the rhythm of walking, and the language and terminology he employs is a joy in itself. His use of local dialect words, be they Gaelic or Arabic, adds another layer to the book -and I find it particularly interesting when he explains the derivation of some of our common English words (book being a case in point!)
I too, love the landscape (and history and words….), and although I cannot profess to be as seasoned a walker as MacFarlane, i do like to go for a wander now and then – and yes, walking does help me think, to meditate…
Following paths and trails, I find myself focussing on the ‘lines’ of the landscape (MacFarlane does reference Tim Ingold’s book ‘A Brief History of Lines’ – a source of inspiration for my Connecting Threads!); in particular the ‘anticlines’ – geologically, an axis or line from which strata slope or dip down in opposite directions.
Quick sketches whilst out walking have become the possible basis for a new body of work; I have been playing around with ideas whilst trying out some samples of Stillman and Birn paper from Jackson Art Supplies. (I also tried Jackson’s Handmade at Two Rivers watercolour paper – fabulous!)
It’s these lines and anticlines that interest me, the strata that provide a history of the landscape. I have an idea in my head of how I want these works to look – now I just have to experiment and see if I can achieve it!
Talking of words, I came across a fabulous one the other day – obambulate – meaning to ‘walk about’ or ‘wander aimlessly’ – I have been known to do quite a lot of that in my time!