Back of Hand & Shrivelled Apple:

An Expanded Writing & Walking Workshop

Led by Rhona Eve Clews

image: James Nasmyth, 1874, “Back of Hand”, plate II and “Shrivelled apple”, plate III From “The Moon: Considered as a planet, a world and a satellite”

This guide is a step-by-step process which was first presented as an online workshop on July 25, 2020.

 

Taking inspiration from the photograph by James Nasmyth who compared the surface of the moon to the mountain ranges of the hand, we will creatively journey together, exploring intersections between our mind, body, home and the local environment.

 

Through writing, walking and practical exercises we will move from internal to external landscape; perceiving where our personal, local and collective ecosystems interrelate and overlap. Considering sensual, prose, poetry and video-based materials with a series of provocations we will engage with creative writing practices. Through such exploration, we attempt to re-situate poetry and prose as expanded experiential fields of drawing, vision, sensation, chance and gesture, instead of solely text.

Wood

The workshop will involve

  • creative writing and walking exercises

  • an introduction to poetry, prose and sensory resources

  • connecting with your body

  • moving around the space you are in (even if it is very small!)

  • going outside on a short walk in your local area

For the workshop you will need:

  • Writing and drawing materials: paper, pens, coloured pens or your phone, tablet or laptop - whichever you prefer.

  • A private, space in which to work, free from distractions. Put your phone and email on silent to allow yourself creative space.

  • A portable, favourite food that you enjoy, and can easily carry e.g. dried mango.

 

Considering our relationship to writing and our body’s relationship to the earth, we are going to explore connections between our senses and the elements. The first element we are going to encounter and work with is earth.

Here is an image from my archive of feet treading against lichen. In dry weather the lichen carpet seems thin; it is brittle and crumbles underfoot. The lichen changes with the seasons and weather,  soaking up rain like a sponge, making it deep and springy.


I am going to introduce you to a poem of mine, Humic densities (Earth), and I would like you to read this poem before we do the first exercise:

 

Exercise 1

Making Contact

  • I’d like you to imagine your feet are your hands: set a timer for 10 minutes and walk around the space you are in, barefoot if possible.

  • Close your eyes at points and attune to what you notice about where your body makes contact with the earth. Ask:

  1. What do you feel, what do you notice?

  2. What happens when you adjust your weight from one foot to the other?

  3. What happens when you slow down, press more lightly, or go to the areas of the room that you normally don’t visit as often e.g. the edges, behind things, underneath.

  • ​Set a timer for 10-15 minutes this time and draw or write what you experienced, use different coloured pens or fonts to express different sensations or emotions.

  • Prompts to begin might include:

  1. My focus went to…

  2. The touch led me to think…

  3. I felt…

  4. Drawing I notice…

  5. Writing I notice…

  • Take a couple more minutes to reflect on what you just did. What did this introduce for you about writing and drawing? Where was it comfortable or uncomfortable?

Garden Soil
 

Exercise 2

Be amongst crumbs

  • Lie down somewhere in your space and position yourself somehow unusually e.g. upside-down, up against something.

  • Breathe.

  • What do you notice about your body in relationship to the space? What do you notice when your face is closer to the floor? What has changed?

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write a short poem from your observations. Explore writing in place, and then moving out of the position and writing there. How does the position of your body influence your perception?

 
 
 

Exercise 3

Watch and Walk

  • Watch the below videos, Tawny and Where every light is the moon (both are less than two minutes.)

  • Both of these films were made by attuning to the local environment and listening to what was present in the space around me. I paid attention to how the changes in light, sound and movement impacted on my body, and how my hand felt in the relationship with the camera, stimulus and sensations.

Walking instructions:

  • Think of somewhere close to you that you can walk to and back in 15 minutes. Walk this walk differently e.g. if you always walk up the street, walk down it this time!

  • Choose an element (earth, air, water, plant, fire) to connect to, on that walk. For instance, you might notice water in the drains and gutters, you might notice fire as expressed through sunshine.

  • Take your favourite food with you to help you to stay connected to your senses.

  • Ask: how do my senses connect with this element e.g. is there a relationship between taste and air, touch and plant, etc?

  • Aim to have silence, attune to your body and the environment.

  • Sketch, photograph and write as you go. You have permission to look weird!

  • We are looking for similarities between the landscape and ourselves.

 

 When you come back:

 

  • Write or draw or combine writing and drawing about your walking experience; the videos or the other resources which have inspired you from the workshop.

 

  • Possible prompts:

  1. Attuned to water, the street became…

  2. I didn’t realise the taste of…. would feel…

  3. The sound of the… made me want to…

That concludes our time together! I would suggest that you gather the materials that you have created (e.g. photographs, writing, drawing, etc.) into one folder, either digital or physical or a combination of them both.
 You are then free to either use these creations as you have originally made them, or return to them and re-edit or use as beginning points for further exploration.

Here is a digital publication (https://issuu.com/transparentdomain/docs/digitalpublication) that Rhona and Transparent Domain made with the participants from the original live workshop.

I hope you enjoyed following the outline of the workshop, please feel free to email Transparent Domain via dear.transparent@gmail.com with your experiences which can also be passed onto Rhona at your request.

 

We hope to see you again soon!

Rhona Eve Clews interdisciplinary practice considers the current renegotiation of the human/non-human relationship. Working across text, photography, performance and film she encourages organic and spontaneous exchange between her body and the ‘bodies’ she encounters (whether human, non-human, cosmos or ecology).

© 2020 TRANSPARENT DOMAIN

Email: dear.transparent@gmail.com​