In August Drawing Projects UK will be supporting artist Simon Woolham to explore the Kennet & Avon Canal through drawing, walking and talking as part of our Open to Draw programme.
The Drawing Out The Canal project is focused around a 5-day walking, drawing, talking residency along the Kennet and Avon Canal, taking place from 7 to 11 August. The project will initiate and exchange collaborative story-telling through drawing and engaging with histories along the towpaths. Drawing Out The Canal will engage with a variety of local groups and clubs from Trowbridge and the surrounding areas along the walking route through activating the process of collecting graphite rubbings, as a way of engaging with the canal histories and generating layers of narrative around the locale.
The project will promote walking, drawing and a deep engagement with histories, a valuable activity for celebrating and engaging with the canal as an active creative process. It is hoped local communities, schools and national radio stations and newspapers will tune in to the project promoting, generating and activating further interest for other communities.
At the end of each day of the walk, Simon will walk to camp sites and spaces situated on the canal. On average we will be walking/collecting graphite rubbings approximately 10/15miles a day. As the project unfolds local clubs, from archaeology to walking history groups, will join the artist at certain points of the journey as a way of imparting knowledge and working processes. The artist will ‘map-out’ the process along the route on the www.insearchoftheshortcuts.com website, which incorporates a live ‘outline’ version of Google Maps, situating the project through the actual location, presenting the multi-sensory experience, which will further encourage and generates narrative between site and people during and after the project as a legacy for others.
Returning to Drawing Projects UK, Simon will then examine the generated variety of rubbings, developing an immersive as well as smaller, intimate artworks from the ‘textures of history’ in relation to the walk. Drawing as a way of transporting to a place, it's memory and the experiences surrounding it. The amassed rubbings will then be interpreted in a number of ways, over the period of 5 days working in the Project Space, in relation to the geography, history and narrative of the whole canal route, alongside exploring the spaces of Drawing Projects UK.
The process is an instinctive and organic process, an evolution, interpreting the past, present and future visions of an important, historically and socially significant site and its interpretation. The process engages with the spaces and surfaces through the physical process of rubbings from the architecture, machinery, towpaths, gates and locks.
The outcomes of the project will then be shown in the galleries at Drawing Projects UK in October. As part of the unveiling of the installation, Simon will perform and interpret the drawing through a performance with local musicians from the Trowbridge area.
The project is supported by the University of Huddersfield, where Simon is a Lecturer and researcher, and the walk is also generating funding for The Pituitary Foundation, and you can read more about this here.
Simon’s practice as an artist, curator and teaching specialism is centred around expanded drawing research and methodology and this was the focus of his practice-led PhD from 2012 and awarded in 2016 at Manchester Metropolitan University. The PhD explored walking (in the broadest sense) and narrative in physical, virtual and psychological space, expanding on the notion of an artists’ residency of the mind.
Between 2000 and 2012 Simon exhibited widely, including a residency and solo exhibition at The Lowry in Salford and Chapter Gallery in Cardiff, as well as numerous national and international group exhibitions. In 2008 he was included in the first Tatton Park Biennial and in 2006 he was Artist-in-Residence at Baltic – Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, he won the Mostyn Open 11 at Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno in 2001. Simon continues to develop his practice as an artist and researcher and since 2012 he has been curator and artistic programmer of the artist-led gallery PAPER in Manchester. He has presented papers at conferences both nationally and internationally, most recently at ‘Mapping Culture’ a conference in Coimbra, Portugal, and a ‘Deep Mapping’ conference at UCL in London.