scrub land with tower blocks

Reunion Part 1 – A Meeting Along a Path


On a cold, overcast day in April 2021, we set off for a socially distanced walk with our cameras. We participated in a mindful walk called Linewalk, conceived as an artwork by Jonathan Baxter and run through Artwalk Porty, in which he invited people to join him each Saturday and follow a predetermined route in the south-east of Edinburgh. Fortunately for us, he had already adapted the walk to be self-guided, due to the ever-changing Covid regulations. 

It had been a year since we had last met in person. Venturing to peripheral urban spaces and recording our impressions with a camera is something we both enjoy. Ideas for books often come out of these images taken on photo walks and we had sorely missed these opportunities during lockdown.

The route (purple), not the route (green) and the re-routed (blue).

Scrutinising the hand-drawn route provided by Jonathan, we realised the bus had deposited us in the middle of the map’s coordinates. We were at the Royal Infirmary Hospital, incongruous if you are lucky enough to have no reason to be there. The landscape surrounding it, especially in the early spring Scottish weather, felt rather exposed. The concrete structure of the hospital seemed to extend beyond itself into paths criss-crossing the marshland and scrubland where only dog-walkers were to be seen. Struggling to tell North from South, we intuitively set off in the opposite direction to the arrows on the guide. 

We spotted wooden butterfly boxes set apart from the path, as if nature were permitted at one square metre intervals. Perhaps in summer they would have burst forth with wild flowers and grasses but today they appeared as sterile and clinical as the hospital. Little France Park, we would later learn, is actually one of the most biodiverse places in Edinburgh for butterflies and moths.

Baxter collaborated with local residents in Craigmillar for a year before making artwork in the area – such as this walk. We were not familiar with the area. In the direction we were headed, the lack of landmarks created a sense of disorientation. The gusting wind became as much a feature in the landscape as the scrubland. We reached the end of the walk and realised we hadn’t yet officially started it! Here, an ellipsis on the map seemed to suggest participants continue as far as they wished…

We turned about to retrace our steps and go beyond, with a view opening out to Craigmillar castle ahead of us, tall flats to our right, and patches of woodland ahead. And although we were perhaps not mindful as Jonathan intended, our intuition would become more and more useful as the GPS routinely dropped out and we found ourselves going decidedly off track. 

We didn’t know at this point we were at the start of a collaborative project. We wondered how similar or different our photos would be. Had we just taken the same photos? In the next post we will revisit the walk, and talk about our collaborative process in making the book and maybe show that we do have our own minds and can take different images to one another when we try 😉

purple sign
wild garlic
Cracked windows
races mural