Twas on the day of the autumn equinox that Diana and I decided to walk the Northbrook from mouth to source.
Exeter City Futures’ Connect events are an opportunity to share ideas on the big problems that they believe Exeter needs to solve as it transitions towards becoming energy independent and congestion free. At the Autumn Connect, I presented my developing vision for a programme of art in St Loyes, aimed at nurturing a sense of place and building community.
I’ve been playfully exploring my local area for a number of years, its history, geography, biodiversity, archaeology, and myth – some invented! This Kaleider Lunchtime Talk is a shout-out to anyone with an interest in any aspect of place-based art and/or who lives in St Loyes.
My ideas for an artist’s residency in St Loyes Exeter are gathering momentum. I’m close to putting in my first grant application, and on Friday 28 July Rosie King kindly joined me on a walk around the ward. It’s an area ripe for an artistic response!
Along Broadfields Road in St Loyes, the roads are named after English composers and it’s always summer. Come and join Sine Nomine in serenading the neighbourhood with the music of each composer on their eponymous street corner.
For Art Week Exeter, I thought I’d open my newly-painted garage studio up to the world. Complete with kettle and lots of cake. It was a chance to show some of my work since 2014, and to ask for ideas for art in St Loyes.
Three days to the start of Art Week Exeter, 13-21 May 2017, and I’m burning the midnight oil prepping contributions to an installation and an exhibition, one concert, one talk, and two days of open studio. So here’s a nice soothing sunset…
Clare Bryden. Blackberrying for beginners. Resurgence Magazine, Sep/Oct 2013.
Shortlisted essay from the Resurgence & Ecologist Nature Writing Competition.
It happened! Possibly not one of the daftest ideas I’ve had, but must be one of the dafter ideas I’ve pursued.
I have a dream of a mix of local retail, local business, charities and social entrepreneurs, artists’ studios and housing.
Last year, I did the first half of a walk down the 1800s route of Woodwater Lane. I managed the western half as far as the Retail Park, before giving up due to the rain. Exactly one year later, I completed the journey.
I intended to spend the morning re-reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but instead spent the morning reading around it. So after lunch, I allowed the sun to call me out for a walk down by my very own Tinker Creek that is the Northbrook.
Brueggemann: “the yearning for land is always a serious historical enterprise concerned with historical power and belonging. Such a dimension is clearly played upon by the suburban and exurban real estate ads that appeal to that rapacious hunger.”
There’s a rowan tree planted beside the bus stop on Grecian Way, and this autumn it’s laden with bright red berries.
In honour of Silent Spring, I spent two hours wandering around my neighbourhood and listening. Listening not just for birds, but for everything, including all those sounds we usually tune out.
Today was the first time ever, at least for years, that I’ve seen another deliberate blackberrier in Ludwell Valley Park.
It was late afternoon when I walked down to Ludwell Valley Park to pick blackberries. I’d just started, around a kink in the hedge and mostly hidden from the gate, when I heard lads’ voices.
The house martins were gathering and sporting on the wing, prior to departure for warmer climes, and Mark Lane from Wilderness Guide kindly popped over to see what plants we could find in Woodwater Lane in September.
I cycled to the dog-walkers’ field above Ludwell Valley Park. I found blackberries. I picked blackberries. I cycled home. I made blackberry water ice.
Sometimes the mystery and the not-knowing are more satisfying and enjoyable than solution.
I’ve always had a problem with buses. Mythogeography tells me to get on a random bus, and see where it takes me for a set number of stops. But I’m able to end up here there and everywhere, even when I’m just trying to get home.
I was away from Exeter for a couple of weeks, and when I returned (though I returned) I remained absent. It was several days before I remembered it was ‘high summer’ and there was free fruit to be had in Ludwell Valley Park and along the suburban margins.
Much of the stone used to build St Loyes Chapel looks as though it came from Heavitree Quarry, but there were many other types of stone there.
When did the Heavitree quarries stop being worked? The old maps provide some evidence.
Seeing the stone in St Loyes Chapel made me want to walk back up Quarry Lane and look for evidence of the quarry.
It’s a pleasant little segment in Rifford Road, set in a garden surrounded with metal railings. There is a bus-stop in front, and it is very ease to miss St Loyes Chapel altogether if you don’t know it is there.
Once upon a time I saw a very old OS map of Exeter in the Treasures of the British Library exhibition. Now through the miracle of Google, I know that it was the Drawing for the first edition Ordnance Survey map of Exeter. 1801 Maps OSD 40.(3).
I spent a day immured in the office at the computer, feeling wintry-cold while it rained and rained. By night-time, I was completely frowstie at being stuck indoors. As the rain had pretty much dried up, I decided on some mythogeography. Going for walks at odd times, like 10.30pm, follows mythogeographical principles, after all.
I found this marvellous book from 1892 in the Westcountry Studies Library, now Devon Archives and Local Studies.
As a birthday treat, I promised myself a walk down Woodwater Lane, from home to water to wood to home again. A satisfying experimentation in exploring the present day.
Yesterday, cycling down a section of Woodwater Lane, I noticed a corn cockle in the bank. It struck me that I have cycled down the lane many a time, walked down it occasionally, picked blackberries at that time of year, but I have never really paid attention to it.
It was a happy accident that the house I bought when I moved to Exeter is very close to Ludwell Valley Park. It is my slice of countryside in the city, where I can wander down enclosed lanes, through fields of nodding purple grasses.
Featuring “Songs in the Neighbourhood” : Suburban roads named after English composers were crying out for a peripatetic concert.