The Pattern

Artists Helen Billinghurst and Phil Smith, in their personae of Crab & Bee and Smoke & Mirrors, offer a handbook for exploration, embodiment, and art making in strange times. Uncovering a tattoo in the landscape, they describe the secrets of ‘web-walking’ and a journey of remarkable encounters. Setting out to walk the margins of Plymouth (UK), using a labyrinth as a mental map, they found themselves exposed to a weird and ailing world of buried rivers, needle-strewn woodlands, and heritage sites repurposed as smack dens. In response, as both survival-strategy and poiesis, the authors reinvented themselves and their journey as a ‘fictioning’, generating multiple identities and joining in with numerous long-running stories. Rather than just walking the path, in their new personae they could become entangled with it and found themselves spun out in an ever widening series of quests that took in the Scilly Isles, South Wales, Yorkshire, and East Anglia. In the face of looming division and climate catastrophe, the terrain itself seemed to be knitting together its own responses and the authors followed the threads.

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