Rural Routes: Bolsover Walks is a new digital commission for Junction Arts and D-Lab by artist, curator and researcher Dr Simon Woolham. The artist and co-walker walk towards different locations, either physically or using Google Maps, guided by the co-walker’s own memories. The initial walks are sound recorded by the artist and later developed as a series of re-enacted narratives and measured filmed stills taken from carefully chosen sites.
“Following an unpredictable, personal and emotionally instinctive rapport to guide us around, we are guided by the rhythms of what we sense on the walks. The strategy of the Bolsover Walks jolts us out of an everyday situation. Enabling the free flowing process of both walking and talking provides a shared voice through the loosening of inhibitions and the opening of the memory banks. They are a positive method for engaging with one another. More than a short stroll, they take us out and reconnect with collective and personal memories of a place, encouraged by walking. The unpredictable process can be physically walked, driven, or experienced virtually through Google Earth. It is the act of walking through the mind that is equally important.”
Simon Woolham's work is concerned primarily with occupied spaces and the narratives that unfold in them. His drawings of school playing fields, junked underpasses and the like often contain text with the tone of dialogue. Through these glimpses of speech the dilapidated environments come to life in a skint version of enchantment: a tree stump or a broken fence, are filled with the meanings of the events that go on around and about them.
At the core of his practice is the collaborative exploration and encouragement of hidden human details, collective, shared histories, stories associated with belonging and the relationships to specific places and spaces, providing a voice to often unheard narrative. He explores the realms between fact and fiction in narrative through both a studio based, and collaborative practice, an expanded notion of drawing through writing, Biro drawings, walking, performance and film. He expands this through a variety of ways, mixing new technologies and older, more traditional processes.