Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, UK

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Hamish Fulton Group Walk, Birmingham, Easter Sunday 8 April.
Text by Harun Morrison
Static, isolated figures on a concrete plain.
Geometrically placed but without discernable logic.
At least sixty of us across the area of two or three football pitches.
Lines of weeds, small flowers and determined grass, score the ground.
This was the abstract playing field for our game.
‘Choose a line. It can be short or long, across or lengthways. Over the next two hours walk the distance of the line. You can use your phone or watch to pace yourself. The only thing is that you don’t speak over this time. Once you’re in position begin when you hear the gong. After two hours it will ring again, this is the sign the walk is over.’
We had convened at 2.30pm on Easter Sunday for a group walk organised by Hamish Fulton; an event accompanying his exhibition at Ikon Gallery, (now - 29 April 2012) and the closing day of Fierce Festival. This is one of a series of group walks Fulton has instigated since 1994. He states: ‘Group art walks use what is already there [...]. What is built, is an experience. [...] Art walks encourage inventiveness, creating new perceptions of familiar neighbourhoods - transforming our sense of purpose.’ (Fulton 2008). Recent walks have been varied as the sites they have taken place each one responsive to the chosen surface.
A palpable sense of mystery gathered through our gathering. And so we stood, an ephemeral archipelago of bodies. . .Yet while we waited for the gong we were as impenetrable and portentous as the stone Heads of Easter Island.
1st step
Looking straight ahead there are several individuals in my line of vision. Some opposite me, some at right-angles, in my peripheral vision are others on parallel lines. I am not compelled to rush to make my first step. Instead I wait for something in my mind to clear, for a particular atmosphere to emerge. Making that first step, l become aware of the mechanics of my body, bones, sinews, muscles, nerves, ankle rising, weight shifting, balance adjusting, one foot off, and back on the ground again.
2nd step
I look forward, considering the distance I have to travel, about 15 meters, more or less’ I consider how dependent I am on technology to mark distance and time. How would I know when the two hours were up without checking my mobile’
3rd step
It being Easter Sunday, I think about not being at a family dinner. Is this communion its’ replacement’ I imagine forward, to the walk’s end, when we talk and share our experiences.
4th step
I think of the landscape immediately around me. Curzon Street Station opened in 1838: a witness to the new building developments that rapidly rise above it.
5th step
When is an activity a waste of time and when not’
6th step
Landlocked seagulls squawk and flap above me with a loitering speed of 22mph (so the experts say).
7th step
The 2.50pm train departs from New St to London and will arrive before I get to the end of my line. The 3.10pm to London will get to its destination ahead of me too.
8th step
I try and indentify a single cloud to focus my attention. I wonder how quickly it’s moving.
9th step
A gang of skateboarders traipse across the grounds. They don’t notice us at first. One glides effortlessly. Then they do, they slow down to. They pause. You can imagine them saying WTF’
10th step
The documentors move about at their usual pace. Zooming in, zooming out. I think about shutter speeds.
11th step
I’m vaguely hoping for some kind of moment of transcendence. A moment when time and space will buckle and distort, loop back on itself, generating some kind of epiphanic moment. But maybe I need to stop waiting for this. Stop expecting it.
12th step
It’s too cold.
13th step
A man on a line parallel to me is making noises, scratching lines on the ground with a stone. Has he misinterpreted the instructions’ I can’t say anything to him or I’ll break the rules. He’s incredibly annoying.
14th step
Another walker lights up a cigarette. I wonder how long it will take for him to smoke it. How many steps I will have taken. How many steps he will have taken.
15th step
I think about the other performances in the festival that have included walking: Berlin Love Tour and Eloise Fornieles’ The Message in particular. She walked in circles. How does that differ from walking in straight lines’
16th step
I think of Helen. She would enjoy this. Or perhaps she thinks in this kind of timescape’ If not this landscape’
17th step
I consider the graffiti directly opposite me. I mentally retrace the artist’s hand holding the can. Doing these pieces under the time pressure of potential police arrival.
18th step
I see Millennium Point, a complex that houses retail stores, university lecture rooms and a science museum - is itself a marker of time - opened at the turn of this century.
19th step
Above me I see the clouds: dark grey and drifting.
20th step
On my eye level I see the roads.
21st step
Behind me I hear the trains coming back and forth from New St Station.
22nd step
Cold wind against my face. I should have worn more layers.
23rd step
When will this be over’
24th step
What would I be doing if I weren’t doing this’
25th step
I hope I haven’t lost count of my steps.
26th step
I check my mobile. Is Rosalie cold. How is James doing’
27th step
My legs hurt. My arms hurt. Even though they are hanging.
28th step
I check my mobile.
29th step
Are other people having as tough a time as me’
30th step
I catch someone slowly making a step. Have I travelled too far too soon’ Is it ok to just speed up towards the end’
31st step
A woman has been walking towards me, now I see her face, the detail on her collar. Her smile. I see her dimples now.
32nd step
I have reached the end of the line, there are still 10 minutes to go. The cold winds blow, I’m fighting the distraction of the temperature. I look across at the stewards, wondering what they wonder about us on the lines. Are they asking themselves where have we travelled, where have we been’

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