Zoom in again by Karen Alderson


One approach to the creative process is called the ‘Zoom in Zoom out, Zoom in” method (Cracking the Creativity Code by Arie Ruttenberg & Shlomo Maital) where you alternate between really looking at the subject of your investigation, coming away and investigating related fields and contexts then returning to it. I have followed this structure by looking closely at the map, walking the route and am now returning to the original object. I came back to this image of the topographical map.


The area that took my interest was the layers of veneer in the right hand corner. Using a scalpel I cut out the dark layers and made a stencil.


I used the stencil to make some images.



After using the stencil I put a clean piece of card onto it to take a ghost print and this was the result.


This is the image from the back of the stencil after it had been used with spray paint.


I took both of these images and edited them.




I took a copy of one and cut into the edges of the shapes, I inked over the surface and took a photograph of the underside.



I made a print block by scoring the shapes into the surface of a pizza base. These are some of the images I created by inking up the block.


I cut more shapes out of tracing paper and put them on a piece of white card and wiped it with ink, I then removed the tracing paper shapes.


I then cut out the shapes on the card and as I was doing so some of the card shapes stuck and so I decided to cut them all so that they remained fixed to the card at the top and bottom of the shape.



I shone a light onto the back of the card and got some interesting shapes.


I took some of these images and repeated them in a word document, printed them off then put the image over some carbon paper and traced the shapes with a sharp awl, moving the paper as I went.



As I traced over the shapes I daydreamed about being a nurse and suturing wounds. Returning to the card with partially cut out shapes I removed the shapes and added stitches.


I decided to make marks with a piece of card and black acrylic paint on tracing paper.


This reminded me of rows of curved suture needles and the railings that had been misshaped after the impact of a vehicle crash.  I also liked the marks made by the paint on the far right and corner, close up they look like knots or commas. I want to replicate these marks in stitch.

I had some thread left over from stitching so I put it into red iron oxide acrylic paint and made some prints.I then cut out the strip of marks and placed them at the bottom of the print to experiment with pattern.


It felt good to return to visual research after walking and filming. The two types of research are related, working simultaneously with an internal and external landscape. I am not sure how the dialogue between them will manifest, I am not intending to synthesize them into a whole, I’m more interested in the juxtaposition.

I have begun to meditate again and am making decisions about visual research as I work rather than having a plan. This feels less pressured, less controlled, more exciting. I do not “know” consciously what I will be doing next or what ideas will come from the materials. In one sense it mirrors the psychogeorgraphy process where I did not have destination in mind but was open to investigation, to what happens, to being disrupted and being aware of nuances and subtle shifts in experience. It is like a shamanic medicine walk, a shamanic research process, I’m sure there is a technical term. I like the results and am formulating a 3D piece that I want to finish by the end of the year.


1723 and all that by Karen Alderson


Journey 5

The walk begins at the end of Syke Lane where it meets the A629 Keighley Road. I’m not looking forward to this bit of the journey and, although it is a Saturday morning, the traffic is busy and noisy. A speed limit of 50mph is in force, there are 3 sets of speed cameras, I stop and look at one of the cameras, it has a police notice that says “Property of Crown UK” which makes me think of the Tower of London and Anne Boleyn. It has an image of a crown inferring a medieval threat of decapitation. I quickly move on rubbing my neck.


The road is wide, there is a designated pavement, there is no litter, no dumping, possibly due to the high level of surveillance. There is a feeling of expanse, like an American freeway, the juxtaposition of a fast road in a rural environment, of being monitored alongside the wildness, a controlled speed taming the inner teenager who wants to put their foot down and tear up the road.  I walk towards Illingworth feeling disjointed, I’m the only pedestrian apart from a male jogger wearing small, tight bright pink shorts and who seems to know a lot of motorists.

I pass the Moorlands Inn that has 4 imitation trees at its entrance.


lllingworth has a plethora of parked cars, a mix of new builds and older properties, I am bursting to go to the toilet and know there is a supermarket further down the road. As I’m stomping towards Morrisons, eyes straight ahead, not in the slightest bit interested in anything, I pass St. Mary’s church. I decide to return once I’ve been to the toilet. Biological drives obliterate the capacity to slow down and appreciate beauty, a lot of people are surviving in a culture that demands they work long hours for little pay, rushing to work, to school, to the supermarket. No wonder we do not stop and really appreciate who we are, where we are, how important other people are to us, I didn’t want to.

At St. Mary’s church I climb stone steps littered with broken glass. At the top are flat grave stones dating back to 1723. Metal plates are screwed to all the windows and main door, this church is not in use, so other creatures have: a bird has made its nest in the box that encases the CCTV camera. It is strangely quiet even though it is only metres from the main road and still offers a place of reflection and stillness. I try to imagine how different this place would have been in 1723 which spurs me to go to Halifax library after the walk and acquaint myself with the reference section, the librarian is more than helpful, afterwards I bump into a long lost friend who kisses me unexpectedly on the lips, it’s a day of surprises.



I walk past Morrisons, there are a lot of people busy with their Saturday morning shopping. I look out of place with a camera around my neck, I continue walking down Keighley Road and am getting suspicious stares and decide not to do anymore filming.  I feel anxious and instead of walking the route back I catch the bus and alight at the edge of Pavement Lane. On the corner of Syke Lane I notice a metal sign that has been hit by a vehicle, across the road a wall has been rebuilt after another collision. All these hidden clues of undocumented & unmarked car crashes. I drive back to Todmorden and at the garage pass the scene of a car accident involving a cyclist, a car and a Landrover pulling a trailer. I can hear the sirens of approaching emergency vehicles. I wonder if I should change my research topic to holidays in the Bahamas.


Rural safety by Karen Alderson

Walk 4

This is the penultimate walk and I drive up to The Raggalds pub at the top of Roper Lane and park in the car park next to a steel container that has CCTV notices emblazoned on it. It’s a beautiful sunny morning and I begin my journey by walking down Green Lane, the road is busy, traffic hurtling down the hill, I find myself noticing the patterns at the road edge. I go up Taylor Lane, it is surfaced with cobbles which takes me back to my childhood in Nelson, Lancashire. Halfway up Taylor Lane a tractor comes down leaving tyre prints.p1080358p1080386p1080387p1080450p1080360

At the top of Ned Lane I meet Ken Oldfield, a cyclist, he’s lived on this road for 41 years, he’s in his 70’s and tells me that most of the roads in the area have traffic calming measures: speed bumps, marks on the road, 20 mph zones, traffic cameras, but not this one.  “Once they see the white circle with the black line through it they think it’s a freeway and some of them race at 70—80mph, 3 abreast.”  Ken’s daughter was clipped & knocked down by a car when she was 9 years old,  “She was OK, Thank God.” His daughter is now 40 yet the relief is still palpable.  Accidents on this stretch of the road are common with walls frequently being hit and knocked down.


We talked about the experience of driving and the trance-like state it invokes: cut off from the outside world, heater on; it’s conducive to daydreaming & parts of our personalities coming out and acting in ways we wouldn’t normally do outside the vehicle. Ken asks me to pass his concerns onto the council, I tell him that I have nothing to do with them but hopefully someone will read the blog. This is the first person I have spoken to whilst out walking but we are on a country road and I feel safer in this environment than in an urban setting. I am also wearing a rucksack and look like an archetypal walker photographing the countryside, something that is culturally depicted as beautiful and an acceptable activity. A couple of years ago I did an SIA security course and we were instructed to approach anyone taking photos of buildings and treat it as suspect activity. Art students are now perceived as potential terrorists, which, I suppose, is at the nub of my anxiety when filming and photographing in urban areas where CCTV cameras sprout from every building. Activity that once was seen as eccentric is now considered dangerous. The course was 3 days brainwashing into the culture of fear.

I’ve brought my Lumix camera. My Go Pro filming skills leave a lot to be desired and my ideas far outrun what I am able to do technically. But I’m feeling positive as I walk down Syke Lane and look across the valley and see a deep gorge which reminds me of the original contour map, it feels like I’m sewing together the old map and my present physical experience which gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction. I feel embedded in the physical world; alive, present, the inner and outer landscape merging.


I’m reading the Tao of Pooh which encourages one to stop striving and over stimulating the mind and be mindful of the beauty that is already in one’s life, however simple and transient. What we realise is beautiful is what we we are not really looking at. I decide that the road edges are beautiful and really look at them.

Towards the end of the walk I begin to look up and become interested in the electric masts, they remind me of trees I saw 10 years ago when I visited an art retreat in Lemba, Cyprus, there were not many of them. We tend to notice things that become scarce whereas everyday objects seem to become invisible until we really look at them.




As I write my notes up in the car park the landlord comes out and moves three traffic cones over the uneven ground, I wonder if he thinks that I am an undercover health and safety officer from the council doing an unannounced check. I drive off, I don’t want to make him nervous or implicate myself as a bogus security guard.

Inside Outside by Karen Alderson

Journey 3 Top of Windy Bank Lane to Halifax Road

I park on Brewery Lane & walk along Halifax Road and left onto Roper Lane. The first thing I notice is that there are no bus stops, people living out here will be reliant on a car. After the accident I did not drive for 9 months using public transport instead, being on buses brought me a stronger sense of being “in the world” than just observing it.

I take my time, noticing nettles, RoseBay Willow Herb and Clover and become interested in the path I’m taking at the edge of the road.


I encounter a few parked cars, one with two women eating sandwiches and looking out towards Bradshaw, another woman in a black Audi texting with a stylus, a man with a beard in a small work van reading a book, two men wearing high viz jackets in a large white council van waiting and watching me simultaneously. I notice a sign “Public Footpath to Old Guy Lane”, “Ladysmith Lane” and this:


I write my notes up at the end of each walk relying on memory , the good thing is that I walk a route then come back along it giving myself a second experience.  I consider if my memory isn’t as good now that I have recording devices to do it for me or whether taking images stops me being immersed in the experience as I separate myself to become an observer. Life becomes mediated through cameras, we choose to text than speak.

The first thing I did after having the accident was to take a photograph of my upturned car, to gather a piece of evidence, as if it was necessary to make it real, a fear that if I didn’t then it wouldn’t be somehow. It also gave me an opportunity to step out of the situation and see it as an observer than as someone to whom it had just happened.

Someone lost their dog over a year ago, even so I’m primed to be on the look out for Megan sensing the owners  worry and concern. I wonder if they ever found her? I hold back the urge to ring and find out.


Then I see this


which looks very similar to a Greek roadside memorial. I like the colour and shapes of the rust. I consider making a personal shrine with bright colours.

I’m filming whilst Im walking and notice motorists scowling as they approach seeing my camera pointed at the road. I imagine one of them stopping and questioning what I’m doing, it’s all that projected guilt of being recorded and evidence collected, out here, on this rural road, CCTV absent, a freedom from surveillance. Then the motorists see me curtailing their freedom to speed without restriction. I’m on The Road, which belongs to them, there is no pavement and so, as as pedestrian signified by walking boots, coat and rucksack I am “matter out of place”, abject, like a hair on your plate, something to be removed and not someone upholding their right to safety. I can almost feel their anger, “I pay my road tax!” I consider making a sign with “So do I” painted on it. Us & Them comes to mind, insiders and outsiders.

I reach my car after two hours walking, thankful to be still and safe again, able to put my motorist hat on, become part of the mass, the legitimate, part of the group, an insider. The wind is blowing hard outside, I eat an apple and write my notes, a window cleaner walks by and smiles.