I knew Balding through her sports and particularly the Olympics, but since researching into more about her work I’ve noticed how passionate it is within her life. In recent years she’s made a radio 4 series all about rambling.
-Habitually roaming; wandering
-Extended over an irregular area; sprawling
-Lengthy and digressive
I found this really interesting because she explores different types of walks, routes and groups of people that walk. For example, one of the programs I listened to was ‘The Walking Book Group’, and this is basically a group of people who review a book and then talk about it to each other through walking. In the beginning of the talk, Balding talks about how walking makes you fitter, cleverer, in tune with your emotions, calmer and more positive, so you can really see her passion for walking coming though. Emily Roads is the founder of the group and she says, “Your best thoughts, best ideas, best conversations happen when your walking”, and its so inspiring to see such passion, and I think that personally this is rubbing off on me and making me love my own project even more! It’s also given me the confidence to seriously consider joining a walking group; the book group talk about the ease of it, an hour’s gentle walk whilst chatting. It brings people together and there seems to be no pressure.
The next program I listen too is a specific walk Balding takes in the Kinder Scout to mark the 80th anniversary of people being given the freedom to walk this land. The walkers that join Claire on the walk try to give you a history of how precious this land is, two groups (one starting in Manchester, the other in Sheffield) walked over Kinder Scout and met in the middle. However, many of these were arrested and put in prison. I’m really drawn to the Peak District because there seems to be more and more history behind it the more I look into it, and I’m finding it so interesting.
The CROW law (The Countryside Rights of Way) seems to be the most important law change for countryside and walking in history. It allows people to walk freely on approximately one million hector of land, and you can climb, run, picnic, view historical remains and wildlife, but most importantly take photographs on this land.
The walkers also walking on this anniversary day talk about the strong connection that folk music and walking have together. I think this is really important to my project. When I’m walking and there’s a serious in climb I do tend to sing along to a song in my head to keep my motivation levels up. But I think, as a group, to sing together, is really beautiful, particularly because you’re out of breath and therefore you need everyone to sing together to create that one strong voice. Throughout the walks, Balding talks to people whose lives have been saved bye walking. There’s one woman whose husband has passed away and the only savor she saw was walking, it allowed her to get out and socialize and become a person again. There was also a man who had a serious drug problem and walking allowed him to think and breath, but also get the same high and adrenaline, but through a different and safe activity. It really brings back how important walking is, and it’s hard to imagine how life would be with out this precious thing.
Another edition of Rambling that I listened to was in Beacon Beacons, where their was an ‘Art in the Park’, festival happening. A series of artists had created various pieces of work, and as you walked this route you discovered the pieces. I think this shows that there is a real push for the public to walk and see the land. They also make ‘Journey Sticks’, which sound a little hippy like, but in actual fact it’s really interesting. You wrap your chosen stick in colored string and walk with it, therefore hopefully letting you remind you of this journey in the years to come. This idea of remembering the journey is really key to my project. Even now I have certain things about the walks I have taken and the things I remember and I need to remember them. Also, these things aren’t particularly about the walk itself, its places where I stopped, or had gotten lost, or when I need to put some more blister plasters on. I think this is the way to go in my imagery.
Additionally, the way Balding describes the senses is really beautiful. It’s helped me in my approach in describing things in my work. She almost talks about the locations as if she was talking to a blind person, and I know that sounds silly but its really helpful and you can imagine yourself with her. I’m finding it hard to do this in my images so if I can write some personal descriptions then this could really benefit my viewers and make my work stronger.