Tomorrow I conduct a “walkabout” of my exhibition “Ships and Dreams” currently showing at Arnavutkoy Gallery in Arnavutkoy, Istanbul. Where I come from it is fairly common practice to return to your exhibition after its opening, at a designated time to meet with visitors and to talk about the work on show. But here, I received an email asking “what is a walkabout?” I was reminded that, beyond its more mundane British derived meaning, it holds far greater significance for the Aborigines in Australia. And a day later, whilst reading in the brilliant “The Vintage Book of Walking” I came across Bruce Chatwin:
“The man who went” Walkabout” was making a ritual journey. He trod in the footprints of his Ancestor.” “By singing the world into existence, the Ancestors had been poets in the original sense of poesis, meaning “creation” .
Interestingly this passage from Chatwin’s Songlines starts with a reference to Islam, more specifically the Sufi orders:
“..siyahat or “errance”- the action or rhythm of walking -was used as a technique for dissolving the attachments of the world and allowing men to lose themselves in God. By spending his whole life walking and singing his Ancestor’s songline, a man eventually became the track, the Ancestor and the song…
With that, I have a walk to do, from home to studio, along the Bosphoros. Sometimes I stop mid stride take out a notebook draw a few lines, sometimes not. At the studio I’ll spend some hours moving paint around, so that when inspiration arrives I am there to catch the wave.
Yesterday at the metro two men in dark suits, one dandelion haired, speaking a language I could not identify. On the metro a young women in green, a harpist shuffles her music, an autumn shower of note; finally reaching composure but she is still not quite with us, deep in her songlines.