My walk this week with the Swansea Health and Wellbeing Walk moved from the cycle path to the promenade before reaching the 360 Beach and Watersports Centre at St Helen’s. The old bridge in the image gallery below may seem out of place beside the other photos but this is the old Victorian St. Helen’s bridge that used to span Oystermouth Road a few yards from where the 360 cafe is situated. Not wanting to dispose of the bridge altogether (presumable with the intention of reinstating it when finances allow), the bridge has been sitting by the side of the road for some years now.
Swansea Bay is great in any weather but there can be no question that a dry sunshiny day is good for a sense of wellbeing. Certainly it encouraged people to come on the health and wellbeing walk along the cycle/walking path from Mumbles to Swansea.
My walk this week is from a couple of weeks ago when I went to join in the Swansea Health and Wellbeing Walk on the seafront. Starting at the Junction Cafe at Blackpill, it was originally planned to walk to mumbles and back but for whatever reason the route was changed and we walked in the opposite direction dn headed for the 360 Beach and Watersports Centre instead.
It was a short walk, less than four miles there and back but plenty of people came along, some from the Taste of Gower walks but many more besides.
My walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers has taken in coastal burrows, expansive beach, woodland and now marshland. Emerging from the woods we came across three people sitting in the middle of the marshland, heads bent in concentration as they hunted for and counted a particular species of snail that was said to inhabit that stretch of land.
The weather was still dry at that stage of the walk but it wasn’t long before the rain reached us and we donned our coats. The last stretch of footpath took us back towards Llanmadoc and the excellent cafe where the organisers of these walks, the Gower Landscape Partnership, paid for the tea and cakes provided.
Many of the people joining these walks come from a broad range of disadvantaged and other “hard to reach” groups. If it weren’t for the support provided by organisations like the Gower Landscape Project, many of those people would never have the opportunity to get out and walk, appreciate, benefit from and enjoy the countryside so near to them and yet so far.
A significant part of the funding that allows this and many other organisation to provide these services comes from the EU and it is unrealistic to think that if the EU funding were lost as a result of the UK leaving, it would be replaced by our own government. The same can be said for the arts.
Which do you prefer – cycling, walking, jogging, running? Walking would be my preference if I want to focus on my surroundings and observe the sights and sounds around me. However, for this very reason, I may not get as much exercise as I tend to start and stop a lot in order to look and listen, photograph or record. Then again, I am sure the benefit I gain from enjoying the observation makes up for it, mentally at least!
Following the production walk for the “Breakers Walk” StillWalks video (see yesterday’s post), I recently spent a day with three of the other artists involved in the research project “Walk and Draw for Health and Wellbeing”. The project, led by Cathy Treadaway from CARIAD, involved us on this occasion, all going for a walk through Cwm Nash woods down to the seashore and the cliffs on the South Wales coast and spending some time drawing.
I took a small sketchbook and an iPad. I have been working with drawing and iPads on the recent Josef Herman Art Foundation Schools Award project for 2014 and wanted to continue with my assessment of the iPad as another instrument for drawing. I have not reached a clear conclusion about this medium yet, other than to say it is quite different to other methods of recording observation.
The one thing the iPad has in common with all visual recording methods is that you still have to look. You can, of course, use the iPad camera to take a photo and then use that image to “trace” aspects of the subject but, to my mind, with that approach you lose the advantages gained in looking . . . or do you? After all, observation has to be used in order to decide on the photograph to be taken and that is an essential element of StillWalks.
What are the advantages of visually recording observations? What are advantages of the different methods of visually recording observations? And what are the disadvantages of not recording observations?
This past week I have been showing a taster of this new StillWalks video. Now, here is the video itself. Please watch and if you can, use the expand button in the corner of the video to watch it full screen.
The video is nine minutes long, which is longer than many other StillWalks videos, but I hope that you will appreciate the reasoning for this and enjoy its full length. Comments are welcome.
The video was produced as part of a research project with Dr Cathy Treadaway for CARIAD at Cardiff Metropolitan University.