The Pattern: a fictioning ~ Helen Billinghurst & Phil Smith (writing as Crab & Bee)
In The Pattern artists Helen Billinghurst and Phil Smith, in their multi-layered 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 Crab, Bee, Smoke & Mirrors followed the threads. On dragon hills and in white springs, along red paths and at the ‘edge of the known world’, they intuited signposts in the landscape to a way of making art and being in the world; this is the route map they left behind.
Publication: August 2020
List Price: £15.00
Format: ~ Paperback - 208 pages
Size: 17.4 x 23.5 cm
Tags: walking, walking arts, web-walking, embodiment, Plymouth, magical mode, drift, dérive, mythogeography, falling, imbalance, psychogeography, improvisation, sexy theory, Helen Billinghurst, Phil Smith
Buy the paperback (£15)
"So, off we go, on a deeper quest, begun not by imitating ancient or esoteric rituals, but turning off an anonymous residential street to follow a concrete path... ...We had certainly not set out to do magic, but something started to do us..."
This is a lovely mixture:
From the Preface
"This is a handbook for walking, art making and using a map that has been left for us in the landscape. A codebook for living in a new/old mode; in which the barriers between humans and cosmos, and between subjective beings and objective spaces, begin to disappear. The book is also about mysterious gameboards and rules for old pastimes that we have made up. Games for you to play. There are ladders to climb and snakes to ride. An invitation to make a playful pilgrimage that is attentive to both new and ancient special places, webbed together around a tattoo that is in the earth and in the mind.
However you choose to use this book – solve its mystery, borrow a tactic or two, drill it for ideas – we will feel very happy. Particularly, if you change our work as you work it.
While The Pattern describes a model for art making, we did not start out with one. Instead, the model emerged from our ‘hyper-sensitized’ walking in marginal and disregarded spaces and it has become a kind of ‘web walking’. The model continued to develop as we read our poems and performed actions at events, invited people to take us on walks, ran art making workshops and assembled an exhibition from which the threads ran out in many directions.
The Pattern is then the story of the places we found as we spun those threads wider.
It is also a fictioning (we adopted narratives and characters to find things out). There is a story to follow. This story snakes through the book, but it first snaked through us. Throughout The Pattern, through our alternative selves – the artists Crab & Bee and the wandering Smoke & Mirrors – the threads of the story are unwound; then gathered together into a quest to live in the new/old mode. We hope you will join your thread to it."
Helen Billinghurst & Phil Smith