Wilding the Edges, a CCW Graduate School Event conceived by Edwina fitzPatrick and Geraint Evans, was an interactive walking tour on 25 March of Wimbledon’s unexamined places: a journey through spaces which straddle both city and countryside and where ‘wild’ and ‘cultivated’ environments overlap. Participants were invited to reflect upon the social and political implications of these hybridized spaces and to explore how we might respond to them as artists. The tour concluded with a BarCamp discussion in a local pub.
The participants encountered a range of surprisingly diverse landscapes as they walked between Wimbledon College of Arts and Wimbledon Common, led by artist Nick Edwards (Cape Farewell), writer Paul Kingsnorth (Dark Mountain), Lucy Orta (Chair of Art in the Environment, UAL) and David Toop (Chair of Audio Culture and Improvisation, UAL).
The BarCamp held at the Dog and Fox pub immediately after the walk debated the groups’ observations made in response to the urban edgelands that flank the railway tracks, the recently contested space of a recreation ground, the narrow pedestrian lanes that link suburban streets and the open space of the Common with its inevitable historical associations. Sightings of foxes and parakeets along the way reminded the groups of a more culturally familiar notion of wild nature.
The urban-based perception of wilderness was one of the propositions for discussion in the BarCamp with the suggestion that it is an urge that resides within us as much as a place. The ways in which evolving technologies shape our relationship with place, the impulse to transcend the physical and social boundaries of the city and the ways in which our perception of the natural world can be radically altered by choosing to inhabit a semi-wild or feral environment were all raised as topics for debate. Toop’s walk was conducted entirely in silence leading to a discussion about how much we understand an environment through listening.
The Wilding the Edges walking tour and BarCamp was bookended by projects led by Toop and Orta. In addition to leading two of the walking tours, they ran preparatory workshops and presented lectures about their research to the Wimbledon MFA students. They returned after the walk to support the students in taking their experiences forward for an exhibition in mid-May at Wimbledon.
The students working with Toop are focusing on how we experience and generate sound. The students working with Orta are working on her Genius Loci project, exploring the metaphorical inhabitants of urban and natural environments.
The day was documented with tweets, photographs and audio recordings.