Pencil on paper on the ground, barely lit by the moon

A line towards the moon for 4WCoP23

September 7, 2023
Walking a line towards the moon: a postcard for The Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography ‘Watch this Space’ 2023
A Companion Piece to ‘Wish We Were Here’ 4WCoP22

My proposal for the this year’s Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography (4WCoP) ‘Watch this Space’ was to create a digital postcard walking a line in the direction of the moon, taking pencil-on-paper ground rubbings along the way.* It would be a companion piece to A Line towards the Sun for 4WCoP last year. Watching and engaging with the space in-between the moon and the ground beneath my feet, I imagine the stories and memories it holds and its possible future. The drawings and postcard become a visual language and system of communication that cross borders and boundaries, and an invitation to others to ‘watch this space’ and extend these invisible connections. 

mall pencil rubbing on stony track into field with view downhill in background.
Earth and Sky

Linking earth and sky was one of my motivations for walking a line towards the sun for 4WCoP22, and is again present in my work for 4WCoP23. It is also evident in some of my other drawings that respond to the elements, such as rain, hail and snow falling onto the ground, recording and ‘mapping’ through drawing.

Both walks followed lines on the ground towards bright lights in the sky. My relationship to these lights is both similar and different. They draw me in and fascinate me in different ways but, unlike the sun, the surface of the moon can be directly observed through binoculars.

Last year I was conscious of the effects on the ground from low river levels and lack of rainwater, whereas this year has been a wetter summer in the UK with the climate crisis increasingly visible all around the world. 

Trespassing featured again in my walked line this year. Trying to find a moonlight path and follow its line, whether urban or across fields, is almost impossible in England. I could only find small segments with long detours to return to my line towards the moon.

Photo of clouds with lines of wires stretched across the sky
Summer Sky, England 2023
Searching for the Moon

By early August I was searching for a somewhat elusive moon hidden behind the daily rain and clouds (England). Earth and Sky and the theme of ‘Watch this Space’ was taking on new and unexpected meaning as I gazed at the sky. I became increasingly tuned into the cycles of the moon and what time it would rise, noting how it was clearly visible by 20:00 hrs one evening, then only visible at 23:00 hrs a week later.

With time drawing closer to the 4WCoP deadline, I contemplated walking a line in search of the invisible moon or waiting until it reappeared and hope that I could see it this time around.

A rare blue supermoon

Luck was on my side as a rare blue supermoon was due on 30 August. At last, a final chance to do a walk towards a clearly visible moon! I was up at 5am and busy throughout the day so by the time I got home, I promptly fell asleep and somehow managed to sleep right through my anticipated walk. The next evening I thought I’d try again. However, rain and heavy cloud cover delayed me once more. The following day, with the forecast finally starting to improve for the first time in weeks, I was more optimistic of a moon sighting and finally being able to do my walk. 

I spent the afternoon checking a Slow Ways** walk and found the perfect field paths to return to later to walk towards the moon. I also liked the idea of trying to combine a Slow Ways walk with drawing, and of walking towards both the sunset and the rising moon in one walk. 

As sunset approached, I paused by a stream, paddling and drinking my thermos of tea. Wandering slowly, I scanned the sky for the moon rising. Nothing. Instead, a dark area of cloud began to gather where the moon should have been. After walking back and forth in now dark fields along my imagined line towards the moon, I decided instead to head towards Madmarston Hill where I had previously experienced good views of the moon. I’ve walked around this hill so many times, in all seasons and times of day, for both leisure and for artworks such as 11 Tracks and SP386 389. One of the oak trees on my recent Abandoned Walk: Between Two Oaks stands nearby. It felt like the right place to go to in my quest for this elusive moon. 

I knew that a hedge would block any thoughts of a long walk, but by now I was content to just see the moon and walk a line of any distance. The sunset had been stunning, vivid and stretched across the landscape, lighting up the hill. I anticipated a huge moon about to appear at any moment. Another field, more paces up and down across a field. Looking at the sky. Beginning to doubt myself, I checked a sky app on my phone for its whereabouts. I had forgotten to check beforehand the exact time it would rise tonight. With the clouds thickening, I knew that even if I waited I would see no more than a glimpse of it tonight.

Pencil on paper on the ground, barely lit by the moon
Imagined Moon

I decided that it would be in keeping with this year’s walk that my line towards the moon would be an imagined line after all with the moon being somewhere, tangible but nevertheless invisible to me. Having seen a supermoon here before, I really could imagine it. 

I sat in the field, faintly lit by the glow of this invisible moon, and began to take a ground rubbing. I had already decided that this year, I would walk my line uninterrupted and take just one ground rubbing and see how it compares with my line towards the sun for 4WCoP last year. This was probably just as well as I hadn’t really thought through the logistics. I had assumed that my walk would be lit by moonlight. Instead I was sitting on a muddy track in the dark barely able to see my piece of paper, let alone the pencil marks. Without the light of the moon, my photograph was taken in the dark with a 3-second exposure, just enough to see a blurred image of a pencil drawing on paper on the ground. 

I enjoyed sitting there quietly, drawing in the dark: extra sensory, and a variation on my usual daytime Groundlines.

Later that evening I looked out of the kitchen window and at last saw a clear full moon in the sky. Finally!

Moon visible beyond the grapevine
Moon and grapevine

Many thanks to the team at 4WCoP for inviting me to create a work for this year’s festival. The shift between sun and moon over two years has thrown up unexpected elements with both similarities and contrasts. Connecting my lines walked and time spent pausing to engage with the ground has taken on new meanings when connecting earth to sky, and to the sun and the moon; looking up, looking down.

‘Watch This Space’ has become embedded in a way that I didn’t anticipate when proposing this project.

I look forward to presenting my postcard at The Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography 2023 on Saturday 9 September***


* The sub-title for A Line Towards The Moon is Walking a Line: Encounters Through Drawing (A sensory engagement with the ground) and is based on previous adaptations of my Groundlines journeys for public events, taking pencil on paper ground rubbings along the way, noting location, track surface, and observations.

** Click here to find out more about the network of Slow Ways, a network of walking routes that connect all of Britain’s towns, cities and national parks. As well as lots of great walks already checked and ready to wander, there are some that need people to walk them and write a review – check out their map to find ones near you.

*** If you’d like to hear about all the 4WCoP2023 projects, you can sign up here for the free online event on Sat 9 Sept.

Find out more about The Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography on their website here.