Taking an Object for a Walk – post 1


KEYWORDS: walking, object biography, newcomers experience, co-working and co-learning with children.


This is the first post for my residency at WalkingLab.  From October through to January I will be posting reflections and outcomes from a walking project undertaken with my four year old daughter.   This first post is an introduction to the project’s key themes.

In the spring of 2016 I was invited to plan a walk for a series of events at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.  These events were part of a larger project celebrating the ideas of urban theorist Jane Jacobs,  (and coinciding with the opening of  a new community space at the museum.)

Following in the vein of my recent work – co-working with children – I designed a “walkshop” with my daughter.  Our project is called Taking an Object for a Walk, and it is this project that I will further develop for the duration of this residency,  enabling both a more extensive engagement with museum collections, and greater reflection on the project’s methodology

Once a week we will visit a museum or gallery and choose an object to take on on a  walk.  We will produce a series of trails which follow the connections between a museum object and other objects, people, and places in the city.  We will trace existing but latent connections between these things, and forge new ones.  We will learn as much as possible about our chosen object and decide on an appropriate course of action.  We might lead the object, or the object might lead us.  This process begins with the object being drawn in situ. This drawing will act as an aide memoir as we walk looking for connections between the object and the city. New drawings will be made of each new related-object as we encounter them.

The object’s journey is influenced by its biography – its production, exchange, ownership, use, how the meaning of the object has been transformed throughout its history and what its future life might entail.  Most likely, it is the first time these objects have been out in the city streets, so we will ask ourselves how this newcomer to the city might feel in this situation. Where might it want to go?

Taking an Object for a Walk will enable co-learning as we – as adult and child – explore the city together led by the museum object.  This is an opportunity to engage the city, navigating it in new and unexpected ways; a series of new encounters for all concerned.  While this is primarily an active co-learning experience with the object as socratic guide, or cicerone, we hope that the trails will have the potential to be re-traced as instructional itineraries.

 This project is part of a larger, long-term project that involves co-working and co-learning with children (Crafternoon 2013- 2015 in Oxford UK; residency at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford), as well as my past and present interest in walking as both method and practice explored through art and geography.

Three main themes to this new walking work are Object Biography, Newcomers Experience, Co-working and Co-learning with children (my daughter).

Next week I will publish reflections on the Gardiner  “walkshop”.