Very soon I will be starting up my open artist walks again. For a while I have been thinking about how I get to know a place in order to feel like I can be creative in it in a way that is respectful and meaningful. Here is a work in process... a noting down of my process and hopefully something to share with and think about on these walks....
Score for getting to know a place
1. Arrive. (This needs to be done physically but also consciously)
Stand firm, feel your feet on the ground. If you can take off your shoes and make contact, squish your toes into the earth. Close your eyes for a minute and listen to the way the place sounds. Take a deep breath in. Listen. Breathe out. Open your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Listen. Breathe out. Offer a smile if you feel like it.
2. Find the edges. Is there a map where the boundaries are marked? Can you walk around it, across it, through it? Are there walls to study? Or liminal spaces between here and there? Feel the edges with your hands, with your feet. Hold them with your gaze. Acknowledge the things that are inside the edges and notice the things that are outside. This is the boundary of difference that makes the things the place holds within it particular to it.
3. Find the Centre and the Heart of the place. These are two separate things. In rare occasions they may coexist. Spend enough time here to know for sure which is which.
4. Identify Waymarkers, landmarks and spaces to Gather. Walk between them, give them your own names and then exchange them for the proper ones over time.
5. Smell everything you can, Taste as much as is edible. Listen hard to what this place requires of you.
6. Notice Patterns, light moving around as the days cycle, the dusty pixels on the wings of the moths and the way a dog chases the scent of a bird, the paths trodden into the grass or onto the carpet.
7. Notice how the place asks you to move, will it dance with you, does it want to race you around the corner, would it like to sit with you and be still.
10. Repeat as often as time allows, preferably over the course of a lifetime.