Covid-19 has had a significant impact on About walking‘s program. As we operate in a changing level environment every walk we create will be responsive to the health advice of the Ministry of Health. Te Uru and the About walking team will be putting processes in place to make sure you can participate in our walks safely. We have plans in place for if we change levels and will keep you informed in the event of change. At levels 3 & 4 walks will be be remotely delivered. At level 2 we will be maintaining an attendance register for each group walk and managing our numbers so that the appropriate distancing can be achieved. To help us be safe we ask that you stay home if you are sick.
Three of the walks that were scheduled to take place during the Level 4 alert can be experienced through the internet and in your bubble. These are Echo Eco Echo by Andrew McMillan, Sports Day by Vanessa Crofskey and Standing at the edge by Melissa Laing.
At the heart of our now 16-month programme is the relationship between walking and art. Both practices create relationships to the world through enabling thinking and sensing. We are interested in both the act of walking about or around an area – a physical progression through space – and thinking about walking as both a historic and contemporary creative methodology. From these twin interests we chose the title Walking about, which can be reversed to About walking. We have been using Walking about to refer to the live walks, and About walking to refer to forthcoming reflective texts.
Our focus is on the cultural context in Aotearoa, and our approach has been developed with the collaboration of tangata whenua, and with a scheduling logic determined by maramataka. However, as our participating artists span Pākehā, Tau Iwi and Māori we felt it was appropriate to title the project in English. We liked the informality of the colloquial English phrase ‘walking about’, which encompassed both ambling and exploring but did not refer to a specific culture.
Our Visual Identity
We worked with Te Uru’s designer to develop a visual identity that reflected our various references of land, movement, maramataka and performance practices. In developing the visual identity for Walking about, we considered storytelling, pathways of the imagination and senses, natural phenomena, trajectories, ambulation, tidal ebb and flow, cycles of life and seasonal and astronomical calendars. The original identity for Walking about featured a row of arrows that arced around the title, indicating motion, journeys, pathways and maps. Although we initially considered alternating footprints, or even arrows that resembled the footprints of a seabird on a beachfront, we settled on a simpler, more geometric approach that would adapt well to each project without too much clutter and had a man-made, directional look and feel to represent the built environment – a single line of geometric arrows based on road signs, wayfinding, weather maps and, specifically, the arrow found on pedestrian crossing buttons. The arrows moved bi-directionally, to suggest ebb and flow, while the font is clean and clear, like roadside signage.
A Shift in Name Use
In July 2020, community feedback brought to our attention that the arrow image in our identity created a connection between our project and the Aboriginal Australian cultural practice of walkabout. The arrow is commonly used to represent emu footprints in some Aboriginal iconography, an unintended association that we weren’t aware of. Additionally, some concern was expressed that the title Walking about was too similar to walkabout. We were aware of the concept of walkabout which is quite specific to Aboriginal culture but research indicated that Walking about was a distinct phrase without the same association. We sincerely believed it to be a common conversational term. Walking about does not seek to draw on, create connection with or cause injury through any association with Aboriginal culture. In response to this concern we have changed our visual identity to remove the emu association and will use the About walking side of our reversible title when advertising any further walks and activities.
Further, in consultation with one of our participating artists, we have changed the name of one specific walk. The community feedback we received was in response to the promotional material for val smith’s queer walk-nap-walk-nap-yakyak-nap. The repetition and rhythm of the title evoked Aboriginal language patterns, and, coupled with the original overarching project title, branding and poster colouring for the specific walk, formed an unequivocal impression of cultural appropriation for the Aboriginal Australian who encountered it. A harm was caused because of our cultural ignorance. We acknowledge and own this harm and hope that our response will prevent the continuance of this harm.
We are conscious that a programme of ‘walking’ has a tendency to exclude differently abled people by design. In response to this we have placed the question of access at the forefront of the development process for the project. As part of this we have commissioned works from artists of different physical abilities and asked all artists to consider wheeled access to their walk.
We will clearly signal the access level of each walk and support available and will do our best to ensure access where possible.
If you want to participate in a walk and need any support to do so that we have not considered please contact the curators on firstname.lastname@example.org
We acknowledge the presence of the Rāhui over the Waitākere Ranges. Any walks undertaken in this area will be on the tracks that have been upgraded and reopened with the consent of Te Kawerau ā Maki or in areas not affected by the Rāhui.
About walking is, in part, a response to the Rāhui and allows us to consider alternative recreational opportunities at this time.
To find out more visit: http://waitakererahui.org.nz/the-rahui