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Runway Walk West

Runway Walk West

Figures in the landscape

International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March couldn’t have been a better day – blue skies, sun and light winds – for  RUNWAY’s Walking West from Hastings to Bexhill. Organised by Roz Cran and Sharon Haward, this was the fifth initiative by Artists Without Studios, creating photographs of figures in the landscape. Dressed in black, as instructed, HOT reporter Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along for the walk.

Twenty eight women and three supportive men slowly congregated at Hastings pier. After greetings and introductions, the phalanx of black slowly moved off towards St Leonard’s and on to the De La Warr Pavilion.

It really needed a sheep dog to martial the unruly group of artists, most, if not all, not known for being disciplined or bowing to authority. Artists are an anarchic lot at the best of times, not known for respecting discipline.  And what is a gang of artists? Rather boringly, a colony or a collective – a creation or an inspiration sound more apt.

Shadows in Bottle Alley © LMG

Shadows in Bottle Alley © LMG

The human marshals halt our walking flow in Bottle Alley.  Asking for silence and stillness, Roz and Sharon cannot quite quell the day’s exuberance, while photographs are taken of us all lined up, shadows falling across the path.

And then we’re off again.

Groups form, dissolve, reconform in different clusters; people moving from group to group, lively chatter, laughter, meeting of old friends, making new ones.

We are stopped several times along the way to have our photographs taken, strung out along the coast line, down the beach between the groynes – standing sentinel in the landscape.  After a few photographic pauses, Roz finally gets the message across. She tames the unruly gaggle. Stand still, arms one width apart, look straight ahead, breath deeply, quieten.

And then I get the point.  Quiet meditation, giving the opportunity to take in the sea, the sound of the waves, the repetition of the ebb and flow of the tide, the breeze in the hair, companionship, the beauty of the landscape, the simple being there.  A skein of birds skim the water in formation – although, inevitably, a few individual birds break the line, flying their own path. They also seem to have a deep knowing of their environment and the importance of support and friendship.

And so we walked on.  Talking to different people about different things; art; difficulties of travelling to London; were women tougher in the old days?; the way the woman’s role – relegated to housewife – denigrated the importance of holding families together and the bringing up of the next generation; lighthouses and 23-year-old Grace Darling’s valiant shipwreck rescue. A few people peeled off  along the way – things to do, people to see, sandwiches to eat – so the numbers were somewhat depleted by the time we arrived at the De La Warr Pavilion.

People stopped us on our way, wandering what the women – and men – in black were doing. One had thought it was a funeral march or some sort of ritual and was surprised and delighted to learn that we were simply celebrating International Women’s Day.

And it was a celebration: a pause for thought; time in the natural world; time for ourselves and for companionship. And as an extra bonus, the £5 donations from us all raised £175  for the local women’s refuge.

Previous article on RUNWAY.

Posted 07:31 Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 In: Arts News


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