Outdoors

These paths we follow by ellie berry

Lines are phenomena in themselves. They really are, in us and around us... Indeed there is no escaping them, for any attempt to flee we only lay another one. Why should theory and metaphor be thought to be the only alternatives for the line? Why cannot the line be just as real as whatever passes along it, if indeed the two can be distinguished at all? 

- Lines: A Brief History by Tim Ingold

I'm still walking around the country. To date we've walked 2,600km, with a further 1,400km to go. However, for the past few weeks we've been having some down time. I spent a few days with my family, and turned 24. They asked me: "So, what do you want to do for your birthday?"
I didn't really know, hadn't thought of something in the time leading up to it. I then asked them to get up at 5:45am and climb a mountain. It was the first morning in weeks that there were clouds, and as we started our climb we kept our jumpers tight around us. After a while the heat of the climb warmed our limbs, and the clouds rushed around us as we pushed forward. It was a wind-swept, cloud howling summit, with only a few meters of visibility. But it was wonderful to be able to share one of my loves with people I love. 

It was also around now that I was tagged to post a black and white photo of "my everyday life" for seven days. I haven't been tagged to do one of these internet things in a long time, and I really enjoyed using black and white again. It really makes you focus on shapes and light, and with the ideas of lines already wandering around in my head I found the two topics collided rather perfectly. 

There is rarely silence while walking by ellie berry

There is rarely silence while walking - hiking boots crunch through layers of leaves; breaths heave on the uphill stretches; backpacks gently, but relentlessly, creak as the weight shifts from shoulder to hip. Wind blows branches, rain pelts hoods. However, within this amiable cacophony,  the most consistent noise machine would have to be one's mind.

It can go unnoticed, the noise a mind can make. While living in a loud, constantly changing environment like a city, the mental chatter you have with yourself nestles into the background sounds of everyday life. It disguises itself as to-do lists, and reminders for events you’ve forgotten to write down. But while your legs are burning, feet gently sliding in the boggy soil (somehow found on every mountain on this island) your mind will keep talking to you. It builds elaborate plans for when the walking ends, or maybe dissects the language used on a single sign many miles back.

And then I look up, panting and with shaking knees. The photo forms in front of me, and my hands automatically unclip the camera from where it’s latched as I walk. Camera is raised to eye, and for that moment there is silence.

 

There is a fine line between creation and research. For the first half of this project I have been creating to the rhythm of  my internal monologue. Currently, I am stationary, living in a city. I am examining what I have made during part one - a 5 month period that covered over 2,000km of walking.  All the silent moments now have the potential to create a new narrative, reflecting on the research I find, and the new voices that are sharing the space of my mind.


The above text I wrote as part of a series of research seminars I attended last November at PhotoIreland's The Critical Academy. The six seminars were based around developing research skills to help artist underpin their creative work with solid foundations. 

Big ideas and hard-bitten feet by ellie berry

 Blue trails are completed trails.

Blue trails are completed trails.

Since April of this year (2017) I have been walking all the National Waymarked Trails of Ireland. These trails, 43 in total, ramble through 25 counties and encompass a combined 4,000km in distance.

This project is known as Tough Soles, and wandering all over the place with me is Carl Lange. The idea came about from previous travels, where we'd noticed a strange thing happening. The further we went and the more people we met, the more we were told what a beautiful, unique, idyllic place Ireland was. To them, Ireland represented the exact type of adventure that we were travelling to find. And so, this project was born from a desire to explore and know my home. To find the Ireland that I hadn’t experienced.

To date, we've completed 20 trails and almost 2,000km. 

We make videos, and share our experiences as we go. 

240km in words by ellie berry

Day 1:  Home, Dublin city centre - Sallins, Kildare. 
Day 2: Sallins, Kildare - Monasterevin, Kildare (via Robertstown).
Day 3: Monasterevin, Kildare - Carlow Town, Carlow.
Day 4: Carlow town - Kilkenny city, Kilkenny.  
Day 5: Kilkenny city - Cloneen, South Tipperary.
Day 6: Cloneen, South Tipperary - Home, South Tipperary.

The idea for this walk came about in my final semester of college. The year before I had spent more of the year living abroad than in Ireland, and had walked 1,100km through France and Spain with my boyfriend Carl. While spending so much time away, I had thought a lot about Ireland and the idea of home. So many people we met were in love with our country and culture. And so when it became time to make new photographic work, walking seemed like a natural option. 

I didn't leave with a specific outcome in mind, and the images I made were definitely not what I expected. This walk was quiet and long.

I stayed in B&B's and hostels along the way. Not bringing a tent hugely cut down on the size of my bag. Which means I hiked with one extra pair of pants, one extra top, and change of socks and underwear, a book and notebook, my camera, a charger for my phone and camera, and a few snacks. 

My route planning was fairly simple - I followed the grand canal south-wards out of Dublin, until I reached Carlow. From here, I ended up following Google Maps - which on the first day brought me along a closed road, over a mountain and down into Kilkenny. From Kilkenny onwards was a wandering mix of small and smaller roads, crossing into areas that I had vague memories of driving through a when much smaller. 

Reaching my mother's home was a mix of excitement, exhaustion, and a lot of relief. I got to sit on the grass for a long time, and I relished getting a clean pair of socks. 

Dalkey Kayaking by ellie berry

Last weekend it was my birthday (yay!) and wanted to try something new. 

Kayaking has been on the list for a while, so took a three hour guided tour from Bullock harbour. 

Not being someone who normally does water sports, or just cool enough, I don't own a waterproof camera. I was scared of destroying any of my nice cameras, so I just brought a small 35mm disposable one. I sometimes forget how nice they can turn out (Although as you will see below, there was a bit of camera shake ... and not all my horizons are straight).