Negotiating Power and Wealth
London, Kensington Gardens, Holland Park, Kensington Palace, The Design Museums emerging home, antique shops, piggy-form port decanters, a leather Eeyore, startling new pink bedding plants, portraiture, huddling chandeliers prised from Notting Hill ceilings, Vogue, dresses belonging to Elizabeth and Diana, the firm structures of the 60’s giving way to full-length Chantilly lace, single estate Darjeeling, orange-scented and currant scones, straw hatted gardeners, curators, plasterers, visitors, Lowchen, Tibetan Mastiff…… We recall lightly rubbing the foil, the words Kit Kat taking shape, fingernail daggers, a ‘snap’.
The city, cityscape, architecture, groundworks, frame our day to day rituals and thoughts as we wander between places, being, drifting – oh for a jeweled turtle! – flânerie – Honoré de Balzac described “the gastronomy of the eye”. A sequence becoming a narrative, filling the blanks, the opportunities, with the imagination, consolidating finds with photography, a jotted note, a tweet, leaving a footprint. We mould the transient and edge past the permanent, the static, the brittle. The Living and the Dead. A Fringe of Leaves. Patrick White worked at clarification. To hesitate on the edge of life or to plunge in and risk change, or perhaps to be pushed, or tempted… Eat both cakes and order another.
This is the territory of the city walk. It is about using the space of the city to re-think what we relate to through chance encounters. To speculate and to prioritise, to frame our own questions, to bond with the transient, such as we are. Conversations along the way, other imaginations, other back-catalogues of experience; fire, focus, scramble, reform and re-form our thoughts. How does this data settle in the broad mudbank of the mind? How does it conform to models of the city that we hope to discover or create?
Physical presences between Kensington Palace and the new home for the Design Museum punctuate this walk: the winding path, gentle fountains, swaggering statue, ordered brickwork, a Mount Fuji of meringues, a peephole to Armageddon, blue plaques – the footprints of those who lived, who dared and won, the electric toaster – easier than a fire and telescopic fork, but not without its hazards, awaited the invention of the ‘pop-up’. The agility of thinking, speculation, words, ideas face a severe test in assuming physical presence. Presence can be seen as a measure of the translation of ideas – determination, perseverance and the support of others and territory and presences combine in maps. The map, a partial record and a speculation, a tool for testing our curatorship of place.
Robert Smithsons ‘site, non-site’ terminology, first deployed in 1967, released the artists eye from the gallery, the artists eye within us all, roams everywhere today. Nothing is quite as it seems, still. A constant challenge to close definition. If macro purposes block, privilege and augment our repositories of experience which of our observations, discoveries, perhaps made despite ourselves, will survive and percolate upwards to consciousness and action.