Last summer, I walked 50 miles from mine to my mothers house, carrying my baby on my back. This may be one of the oldest reasons to walk somewhere. Like the performance of pilgrimage, the walk refers to rites of passage, acknowledging all those who have trodden this new and daunting path before, and questioning the pseudo-religious sanctity of motherhood, too. During my walk it struck me how rarely we notice quiet footpaths as we whizz by on our way to work, which seemed an apt metaphor for the job of motherhood.
My maternal grandmother died when I was 1. Although I have known this fact all my life, I hadn’t given much thought to the impact of this event on my mother until I had a child of the same age. I told (and recorded) stories of my life from my mother’s point of view as I walked, as well as documenting the journey in mediated (via GPS and on twitter) and organic ways (collecting flowers, leaves and the light of the day itself on photographic paper).
I am currently transcribing the recordings, which I plan to present to my daughter one day. I am also working on an installation and a second, studio-based performance about the walk. In the meantime, you can view my tweets about the walk at @LizziePhilps. I like Twitter. You can’t get too self-indulgent in 140 characters.