The Turnpike, UK
2020 - 2021

Drift was a walking project developed for the  ACTIVATIONS programme at the Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Activations is a testing ground to explore ways that art can exist outside the gallery walls, making social change with and for the community.

The work moved through three stages, in a collaborative strategy to understand place through the perspective of local residents.

Between June 2020 - October 2020 I worked with six participants to understand the importance that walking had in their everyday lives. They took me on their local walks and we discussed how walking could be a form of art and activism. 

Emergent ideas included walking to maintain wellbeing, communities formed through walking (such as dog walking), sharing memories and heritage (as a navigating tool, emotional attachment, nostalgia and hope) and new ways of looking (what can we learn through the perspectives of others?).


Between October 2020 - March 2021, the project continued online, with a monthly study group - we inspired and motivated each other by sharing things to read, watch and listen to, provocations to inspire creative approaches to walking, as well as nourishing conversation and mutual support during the second and third UK lockdowns. During this time we incubated our ideas until in-person meetings could begin in Spring 2021.

Between May 2021 - July 2021 I established a creative walking group, open to all members of the public. In this time I hosted over 30 walking workshops with 80 members of the local community.  Together we co-created the routes and content of three art walks which were presented in the Wigan Arts Festival, August 2021. 

Walk 1 : Creative Walking : (Turnpike to Pennington Flash Loop) bringing fresh perspectives and a sensory approach to walking.

Walk 2 : Socially Engaged Exploration : (Turnpike to Bridgewater Canal Loop) to discuss current social issues afftecting Leigh, such as safety in public spaces, threat to green spaces and gentrification.

Walk 3 : Post-industrial Futures : (Turnpike to Bickershaw Loop) linking the mining heritage to current re-wilding efforts being made by volunteers looking after Bickershaw Country Park. Whilst sharing conversation prompts such as : the role of workers unions, how do we create community? and civic responsibility vs grass roots activity.




References & Reading:

Wanderlust. A History of Walking:
Rebecca Solnitt

Practice of Place:
Emma Smith

Social Class in the 21st Century:
Mike Savage

The Situationist City:
Simon Sadler

Resilience is Futile:

Mapping The Terrain, New Genre Public Art : Edited by Susan Lacy

Braiding Sweetgrass:
Robin Wall Kimmerer

Vital Little Plans: The short works of Jane Jacobs: Jane Jacobs

The Politics of the NUM (A Lancashire View): David Howell

This work was kindly supported by The Canal and Rivers Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Arts Council England.