Misguides and gargoyles

This weeks tasks had me really engaging with the idea of guides; an idea that I unexpectedly enjoyed. One of the tasks that we were given was to create a map, any type of map, but it had to be unconventional. My partner and I wandered around the cathedral, drawing freehand lines in correspondence to where we walked. We were originally going to recreate the shape of the map with objects we found on our walk. However we were then rapidly distracted when we found controversial gargoyles. This then took us onto a completely different track, and we then started to mark down on the map where the controversial and simply out of place gargoyles were on the cathedral. Within his book Mythogeography, Phil Smith stated that ‘after a while certain things may begin to connect and once that starts happening, without obsessively pursuing a story, you can begin, collectively, to ‘compose’ your drift, allowing what has happened so far to determine your next choices’ (Smith, 2010, 199). This slight tangent that we allowed our drift to go on meant that we developed something that truly interested us, something that was inspired purely from the site itself. I particularly like the idea of a misguide around the cathedral, creating elaborate storied about why and how theses particular statues are here. Allowing people to look beyond the typical tourist view of the cathedral, and discover new information about a place they may have thought they knew so well. Below is the map we drew and some photos of the gargoyles we found on our journey.

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As well as experiencing this oddly enlightening drift around the cathedral, we also explored the misguide. Despite finding this exercise difficult at first, it turned out extremely fun and interesting, both as ‘performer’ and audience. Although the facts aren’t true, the audience are shown a new and sometimes outrageous perception of a place. For example there were several misguides that took place, all with brilliant ‘stories’. Each one brought a new perception to the area around where St Paul in the Bail church once stood, and ultimately I’ll now see that place in a completely different light.

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Axminster Triarchy Press.

Week 2: Site, representation and perspectives

When originally exploring the site, I took many photos of documentation to reflect what intrigued or inspired me about the uphill surroundings. Having lived in Lincoln for over a year, it would be more than likely that I would carelessly walk through the site without really taking in every aspect of its culture and history. As described by Phil Smith in the chapter: The Handbook of Drifting, he encourages that individuals who partake in Guy Debord’s ‘derive’ (also known as a drift) must look for a theme: textures, the old, the new; looking for meaning in everything. This type of walk described as ‘drifting’ aims to detach us from our comfort zone and take chances on where a walk may take us. One of Smith’s instructions is to ‘get rid of rational-way finding’ to collectively allow ‘what has happened so far to determine your next choice.’ (Smith, 2010, 119). It is almost like being an excited child and letting your instincts guide you, rather than guiding ourselves by what we merely think we would like to see. Thus, Debord developed a concept known as ‘pyschogeography’ – intertwining our conscious everyday critical thinking as a ‘playful encounter with [a site]‘ (Govan et al, 2007, 141).

Continuing from the idea of playfulness, we were set a task to go on a walk and create a map of some sort to record our encounters of the space. Me and Megan decided that we would focus on that of the senses – drawing buildings that we found distinctive, textures that grabbed us and conversations we could hear around us. Here is my mix-matched map of our walk around uphill Lincoln:

Our mix-matched map!

Our mix-matched map!

As you can see, we noted particularly snippets of conversations we heard as passers by, which we found quite comical. Once we had returned from our short explorations in pairs, we came back to St. Paul’s courtyard in Bailgate to create our own misguides and tours of our own. Arlene Sanderson talks about ‘Wrights and Sites’ for those interested in the performed activity of walking. A manifesto was created which depicted how they wanted to generate walking that ‘engages with and changes the city, it recruits the arts not as passive expressions, but as the active changes of it.’ (1991, 70). In this sense, we were given the freedom to create misguided tours around the courtyard. Me and Megan decided to act upon the idea of playfulness and decided to view the courtyard as if from a child’s perspective. The benches near the well were the safety zone, whilst the shape formed on the floor further away from the well was the deep dark depths of the underworld. Other groups took us on various tours and some of these intriguing misguides are shown on my flickr photo stream, which you can view through the link at the beginning of my blog post.

 

Works Cited:

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A guide to walking sideways. London: Axminster Triarchy Press.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H., and Normington, K. (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. New York: Routledge.

Sanderson, A. (1991) A Manifesto for a New Walking Culture: ‘Dealing with the City’. In: Wrights and sites. United States: Washington Preservation Press.

3. Secret Places

Walking up Steep Hill and drifting around the Cathedral quarter of the city was a great experience, and I took many photos for documentation. The old history and nature of the area intertwines with the new to create a “timelessness” to the place, with its “never ending” paths and hidden doors making our walk feel like a real exploration and adventure. The Cathedral is clearly at the heart and height of the city, metaphorically and literally. As Phil Smith says, “the exploratory element of the drift is…to see as if for the first time all the things you already know” (Smith, 2010, 119), an idea that resonated with myself, having lived up Steep Hill last year. My favourite place to see was the secret garden and the rooftop nearby it, seeming to be both open and hidden to the world surrounding it. I feel these would be a perfect place to perform a piece of site-specific theatre, perhaps in relation to the Cathedral that towers next to them or using the idea of secrets.

The Cathedral from the garden.

The rooftop.

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Triarchy Press

The old and the new

Whilst walking around the Cathedral quarters, Castle grounds and the surrounding areas, I discovered a side to Lincoln I never knew before. Wandering off the beaten track, down alleyways and through hidden gardens opened my eyes up to Lincoln’s rich history that I knew existed, but had never witnessed. It was the architecture of the buildings that fascinated me the most. The clear contrast between new builds and old roman remains. However it was the blending of the old and new together that made me reflect on just how far Lincoln had come over time, and I appreciated that little bit Lincoln more. Within Phil Smith’s Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways, he stated that drifting through a city could allow you ‘to see for the fist time things you already know’ (Smith, 2010, 119). Although it was a guided drift through Lincoln, I certainly saw things that I’d seen before but never appreciated.

Below are some examples of the blending of old and new. The old roman wall which had bowed over the years with a modern postbox slotted inside its historic bricks. Old steal rods to help preserve the wall and to keep it standing throughout time. Crumbling brick walls in contrast to the fancy modern new build in the historic cathedral grounds.

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Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work is something that I find very interesting. The wrapping of everyday objects such as trees, and the walls of oil barrels, allows the public to see everyday sites in a new way. When the sun shines on the trees they take a new form, something mystical that distorts the assumptions of the everyday. Thus the public pause and acknowledge their surroundings. The wall of barrels does a similar thing. They create a block in a path or a wall so high and intimidating it makes the audience feel small. This alteration of journeys and physical perceptions also forces the public to acknowledge and appreciate their surroundings.

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Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Axminster Triarchy Press.