Walking in the City


Mel Shearsmith and I have been working with the Parlour Show Rooms in Bristol on a four day event focusing on walking and talking, which will also involve the initial stages of what I hope will become a Bristol deep mapping project. We are very sure it will be more interesting the the annual influx of fibreglass animals that Bristol seems to go in for now (see above).

Here is some information about the event.


Walking in the City is a unique four-day event exploring Bristol through artist led walks, talks, discussions and an evolving exhibition, curated by The Showroom Projects and PLaCE research centre. The four day event takes place over 12-15th September and explores how walking and talking can change our experience of the city.

Walking In The City is an international gathering of walking artists, enthusiasts and academics at The Parlour Showrooms, in Bristol. This micro walking festival offers an extraordinary programme of performance, talks and an evolving exhibition. Over the four days audiences are invited to create time/space for imaginative wanderings, meditative practice and serious play.

Artists; Phil Smith, Simone Kenyon and Simon Whitehead invite you to join them on walks around the city to re-imagine the every day, explore ideas of the collective, and question what it means to playfully engage with and see the city anew. All events welcome visitors to Bristol, as well as those who think they know this city like the back of their hand.

The event is centered in and around The Parlour Showrooms, which will act as the cafe hub for the duration of the four days whilst also providing the forum for artists Sarah Rhys and Sue Maude to begin a process of ‘deep-mapping’ Bristol. Through this process they will explore the ancient city boundaries, investigate the hidden city waterways, and invite visitors to contribute to an evolving exhibition on the walls of The Parlour Showrooms.

On the first day (Thur 12th) Phil Smith will open Walking in The City with ‘Crabbing in Bristol’; a derive, or ‘drift’. Described by the artist as an: ‘exploratory, destination-less wander through (usually) city streets, detecting and mapping ambiences, walkers’ subjective associations and those emotions and atmospheres ingrained in the urban structure and texture’. Each dérive is unique, and finds its own duration; ‘Crabbing in Bristol’ could last up to 7 hours. After having lived in Bristol for twenty years and now based in Devon Phil is, ‘looking forward to being a stranger here once more’.

The second day (Friday 13th) is devoted entirely to a day long symposium; a sharing of research and discussion in and around walking artistic practices. Entitled: ‘Mapping Borders’ curated and chaired by UOB researcher Cara Davies, the symposium brings together artists and academics from all over the country to discuss practice and research. During the day there will be five panels of speakers including acclaimed academics and artists such as; Stephen Hodge (Wrights and Sites), Misha Myers and Dee Heddon (Stories from the Walking Library).

The third day (Saturday 14th) welcomes internationally renowned artists Simone Kenyon and Simon Whitehead. In the morning Simone leads a walk together in silence to the cities borderlands, whilst in the afternoon she runs a workshop to practically explore embodiment and walking. Simon Whitehead leads a group in search of a place, where together they can howl into the night.

The fourth and final day (Sunday 15th), offers a welcoming and reflective space for brunch and a talk, led by two walking artists/researchers; Jess Allen and Mads Floor Andersen. Here they return to the central question of ‘how can acts of walking and talking affect our experience of the city?’ Following on from this Tim Higgins, Canon at St Stephens church in Bristol, will lead the final walk of the four days, to find the hidden medieval walls of Bristol; hinting that perhaps the ‘stories of the Old City are not locked in time but can be set free to refresh our times’.

Walking In The City is the third event of the In The City Series, a performance programme held in two empty shops on College Green in the centre of Bristol, curated by The Showroom Projects.

The vision behind In The City Series is to hold an open space in the centre of Bristol to consider the questions: what does our city centre mean to us? What is the future of our high street? How do the borders of our city relate to the centre? The series aims to engage new audiences as well as provide access to artistic excellence.

Mel Shearsmith, PLaCE curator said:

‘WALKING IN THE CITY is part of PLaCE’s larger ongoing project to build links with organisations like The Showroom Projects and between people engaged with the ecologies of place, the arts, and relevant academic work.  PLaCE – as part of the recently reconfigured PLaCE International (UK) – is pleased to be co-curating Walking in the City as part of its continuing commitment to facilitating interaction between the performing and visual arts, to engage new audiences and to explore place through diverse walking practices in the South West and beyond’.

Canon Tim Higgins said:

My experience is that telling stories can enchant me and open my imagination. But stepping out and walking inside the space, that is the deep gift of the city; story has the power to change my world view. How I view the world nurtures the seeds of my energy for change. I think what is amazing is we can really get inside that transforming space.


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