Walking as Workspace

I’ve been working on a personal challenge to try and walk at least 10,000 steps a day and it is a quest that I am relishing. The best part is the local brickwork.

I’m clearly not alone in being appreciative of this aspect of Reading; one of my most commented on blog-posts is this one from 2011 on my domestic soundscape blog, celebrating some aspects of brickwork of Reading. Six years on, the decorative bricks of this town only seem more beguiling, beautiful and inspiring.

I’m enthralled by what is possible within a fairly restricted palette; by endless variations on common themes; by how tales of repair and restoration are writ in the bricks; and by the skillful hands of past pattern workers whose work has created so much to see and enjoy.

My rich daily walks are increasingly becoming a sort of research context – a workspace, if you will. I’m working on two art projects for this summer about bricks that I’ll be able to unveil soon, as well as some knitting that I can’t share now, but which is happening in the cracks between looking and listening and walking.

I’ve done a lot of wandering around in Reading over the years in which I’ve lived here, but the recent 10,000 steps challenge has reinvigorated and refocused this activity. I’m really enjoying how constant exposure to my town renews my love for it, and how familiar places can always reveal something more when you make a regular habit of exploring them.

My psoriatic arthritis has been mentioned here in the past, but something I’ve not really talked about in depth is the cycle of pain, depression and poor sleep that goes with flare ups; the worst symptoms I have are intense pain and a savage fatigue, which can make me feel like shite, and damage the deeply needed powers of restorative sleep. Underslept, in pain and introspective is the worst place to be when managing a long-term pain condition but luckily this can be avoided by building a positive cycle of joy, distraction, gentle exercise and deep rest. I’m finding something like that in 10,000 steps a day, with the comforting company of clay, and my number one comrade for all daily walks, Mark.

So in a way at the moment my daily walking space is a kind of workspace not only for developing exciting creative projects, but also for a very personal and no less important sort of work. I’m grateful for such sturdy foundations for making, creating and being.


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