Walking with eyes open

The origin of discarded objects illustrate the extent of globalisation.

Most of us spend most of our time in urban environments, which are not pristine but bear marks of wear and waste. Can we learn to see differently these signs of our material culture? What would happen if we walked about, not as a means of getting somewhere but simply to observe and connect? Simon Swale, a Senior Lecturer in Design, has been paying attention to his neighbourhood as he walks through it, gathering samples of the detritus strewn across our landscape.

"Thus, for me walking has become part of a critical practice of experiencing and ‘learning’ the city, especially the environment and neighbourhood in which I live: Port Chalmers, Dunedin."

As an artist with a practice in making jewellery and other small objects, Simon has been reflecting on the things he finds and reinterpreting the forms in metal – brass and stainless steel.

These objects may then be worn or carried on the body, extending the narrative of travel, hopefully bringing the owner to reflect on both the landscape from whence they originated and the discourses of globalisation of which material culture is symptomatic.

Walking and wearing present opportunities for our bodies to engage with the world, not just with the urban space in which we are walking, but also with the human stories behind the flow of material culture. The objects we see represent the constant flow of labour, technology and capital across geographical boundaries.

October 2020