Walking and Writing

by Ania Bas and Mercy Sword

I like explorations that allow me to look differently at objects. Physicality of an object is for me as important as the object’s potential. How does it taste? How does it sound? What could it do? What unexpected use it may have?

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I like explorations that can take place in the mornings, before I am trapped by all things busy, and only require minimum of preparation. I like explorations that motivate me to go for a walk whilst enjoying here and now. I don’t smell, breath, walk consciously enough.


I like explorations that allow me time to write outdoors. On the bench or whilst standing. In a park or at a bus stop. Somewhere where people walk by. I benefit from their movement.

I like explorations with company. Encouragement, energy and togetherness is what motivates me. I don’t thrive on my own.

The flared pedestal bears the inscription ' Admiral Vernon'/ Quid virtus & quid Sapientia possit / Utile proposuit nobis Exemplar'

The flared pedestal bears the inscription ‘ Admiral Vernon’/ Quid virtus & quid Sapientia possit / Utile proposuit nobis Exemplar’

I have translated my affinity for small scale, everyday explorations into a short session that was part of Greenwich Book Fest. The workshop allowed other people to dip into techniques that I use to write and to walk. For this morning session I used objects from the collection of National Maritime Museum and our room to work in was Greenwich Park.


Seascape from the Umberleigh by John Everett

Seascape from the Umberleigh by John Everett

Mercy Sword, Digital Participation Assistant at the National Maritime Museum, took part in the workshop and writes:

We first spent a few minutes looking at objects from the collection and making lists to describe how these might taste, feel or sound; another list about what it might be used for, as well as its unexpected uses. These different ways of looking at the objects became pivotal for use in the workshop later.

We now walked into the tree-lined park in silence so we would not be distracted. Focus on our natural surroundings would also become pivotal later. We found a quiet spot to write and Ania tasked us with producing a paragraph about a character connected to the object. Without realising it, the process of walking had conjured up new ideas with which to describe my object and to connect it to my character. I would never have come up with a burnished mango being sliced by a dirk , or indeed the kind of colonial character who might own a dirk, if I hadn’t been walking through trees (albeit not mango trees!). Being told to think about the weapon’s unexpected uses at the beginning had also suddenly paid off in the most unexpected way.

Ania then asked us to transcribe our ‘best’ sentence from our writing onto an index card. We shared, and commented constructively on, each other’s work and then used the cards to exchange as ‘contact‘ cards with our partners if we wanted to; having become quite intimate with one another’s stories in quite a short space of time it seemed like a lovely way of remembering our experience.


You don’t need to be a writer, but something compelling happens when you look, walk, and juxtapose objects and characters and then write things down.  I now feel inspired to think about other ways for visitors to respond creatively in museums both indoors and out because it seems you can never know where, or when, inspiration may strike. And it might just start with that object….