Thursday, 4 May 2006

Walking the walk

Sometimes a walk is more than just going from A to B. Last time I was in Venice, I decided to do something I'd always wanted to do - I walked the entire length of the city from the railway station to the point of the Dogana, and on to the edge of the Arsenal. That wasn't just a walk - it was a kind of 'beating the bounds', a way of estimating the city's size, almost a kind of magic to bring the whole of Venice under my control. Not 'just' a walk then.

Thinking of this I was reminded of Richard Long's wonderful art. He's an artist who works with landscape as his material. His first work was a straight line in a grass field; a path going nowhere. Each of his walk realises an idea - some create sculptures, others poems ('textworks'). He joins up cairns on the Brecon Beacons, or walks across England carrying a stone each day from his start point to the end of the day's hike.

Richard Long is in touch with the magic nature of walking. It's an act of control - walking around a city's walls puts it in your power (I wonder if that's what lies behind the Biblical story of Jericho, which the Israelites walked round seven times, a magical number).
By the way, I'll be putting a pdf of the Venice walk up on the podtours website ( pretty soon, so if you feel like doing the Venice end-to-end walk, you'll be able to.

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