Psycho Geographic Walk

Material Memories : Week 9

This week we went out and about on a psycho geographic walk.

The purpose of the psycho – geographic walk was to engage our group in the immediate environment around The Islington Museum, which plays host to the Material Memories workshop programme. It is an opportunity to ‘stop and stare’, for observation of the everyday urban environment around us. To exchange observations with each other and reflect on our own ideas of where we live and make. We take inspiration from our memories and our interaction within our group but the walk is intended as an opportunity to embrace the museums location as a place with the potential to inspire participants to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, feel textures with new interest and develop connective ideas of Islington Museums local, creating Material Memories en route.



We took a short walk around to Spa Fields park popular with many for a quick spot of lunch. En route documented the everyday textures, sounds and smells. We were in search of:

Textures and repeat patterns in the architecture, natural and manmade materials, which make up our surroundings, concrete, wood.  Wax crayon rubbings and photographic documentation. Words, thoughts, descriptions. Sounds of the place: Familiar and unexpected.


Taking pavements wax crayon rubbings.
Taking pavements wax crayon rubbings.

We got the odd strange look from the passing cars and people on their balconies but we were too engrossed in our textural drawings to care.

We took samples from, pedestrian crossings for the blind, tree stumps, brick walls, tarmac, the sound of a stick being run along railings, and recorded our chat about being out and about in towns and countryside.

Collecting textures and sound
Collecting textures and sound


Wall rubbings
Wall rubbings

Getting gout and about in the sunshine was great and a good break from the making room. Everybody was really involved and enjoyed experiencing the outdoors in new ways.

Taking time to stop and stare.
Taking time to stop and stare a poetry stop for tired legs.

Taking the short poem ‘Leisure’ by William Henry Davies as our muse we responded to our little corner of Islington;


What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.



 I shard my love of manhole covers… and we all have a new appreciation for them…erm don’t we?

We thought on what Islington was like and is like now and how would we describe our place to others. This is how others have described it in the past, when they took the time to stop and stare…

Fitzstephen, the friend of Becket, writing between 1170 and 1182, speaking of the north of London, says, “On the north are fields for pastures, and open meadows, very pleasant, into which the river waters do flow, and mills are turned about with a delightful noise. The arable lands are no hungry pieces of gravel ground, but like the rich fields of Asia, which bring plentiful corn, and fill the barns of the owners with a dainty crop of the fruits of Ceres.” Still “beyond them an immense forest extends itself, beautified with woods and groves, and full of the lairs and coverts of beasts and game, stags, bucks, boars, and wild bulls.” In later centuries Islington became the pasture-ground of London.’


Tired and in need of a cup of tea we headed back to base camp to have quick think on how to take the quilt forward.



A great afternoon and some lovely images for the quilt. Thank you everyone for your enthusiasm and hard work.





Author: Alex McEwan

Alex is an artist who specialises in inclusive and accessible community arts projects, such as Sense's TEXTtile and Quilt Tales.

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