Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful you find coexistence; it breaks walls down.
Painters May Murad (Gaza) and Rachel Ashton (Huntly) digitally collaborated throughout 2017 to plan two 2018 Slow Marathons in the places they come from.
2018 is the centenary year of the end of WW1. It is also the year when Britain occupied the Palestinian territory of Gaza, - its turbulent history has since been shaped by this event. The Gaza strip is of exact marathon length (26 miles/42k) with walls at each end. We can not visit, and they can not come out. How can we extend and keep up friendships when we can never visit each other? Can socially engage if we never physically meet the other?
The digitally driven exchange project Walking without Walls partnership explored how we can collaborate artistically and socially despite restrictive political situations. The two artists shared through image and video, skype and whatsapp, sketches and text their respective landscapes in their very different geo-political settings. While Rachel negotiated her way with landowners and farmers, May dealt with the complexities of living in an occupied territory. Drawing on the plant journals of WW1 pacifist Rosa Luxemburg – created whilst imprisoned - the artists recorded and shared plants with curing powers in their different climates, while looking for new paths, friendship and ways of healing along the way.
Walking without Walls formed two marathon length walks. One in Gaza and the other along the river Isla from Dufftown via Keith to Huntly. It featured exhibitions in both places, a catalogue of healing plants and a Pathmakers' Gathering on political walking. See photos from the day here.
The artists’ pathmaking explorations into their own land were accompanied by a year-long exchange through various digital applications. In a time of rising nationalism and restrictive legislations that hinder crossings of national borders, the two artists have been exploring opportunities and limits of new technologies in fostering transnational long-distance collaboration. Paintings, drawings and other documentation resulting from their visual exchange will be displayed at Tate Exchange on Fri 25th May.