Jenny Staff’s practice centres around walking and drawing. She has an affinity for being in the landscape, growing up surrounded by hills, wild skies and open spaces. Staff explores how the meditative qualities of walking impacts physical, spiritual and mental well-being. She is interested in how the repeated steady movement of walking allows for activation of a journey, moving oneself from one location to another physically and mentally. Her playful drawing and performance practice embodies these transformative qualities, working in a framework which allows her to reconnect with the internal and external environments.

The series ‘Invisible to Visible’ was inspired by a pilgrimage walk to Clougha Pike in 2020. She chose Clougha, a powerful hill which holds the skyline above her home town, as an iconic landmark of her childhood, it’s empty wild and windswept grandeur is imprinted in her core. This act of pilgrimage was a vital solitary ritual, stepping farther into what she knew but where she had never ventured. This walk was an act of transformation, reconnecting with this landscape as a process of making space and time in which to be present. drawing an invisible line between one state and another, moving into the light, to become visible. An act of transformation – contained in the 19,273 steps of the journey.

Along the walk she measured the number of steps she walked, 19,273 steps treads across the grassland. She used this data to re-visit the pilgrimage as a series of drawings in her studio. Staff retracing 19,273 steps on the paper by walking in an oval shape again and again on the paper, etching into the surface with a metal skewer as her drawing instrument. This drawing performance created a nest like image, as a barely perceptible line scratched into a paper ground, This process collected the imprint of the studio floor underneath, textures, fissures; building an invisible, silent landscape.
Redrawing the pilgrimage on paper repeatedly she created more images with different weights of charcoal. Worn and walked, round and round, a meditation, a move into the liminal, transporting herself back into the process of transformation. By documenting this pilgrimages through drawing this walk becomes visible, and the artist is able to reconnect back with this powerful space, place and time.

The drawing becomes the realisation of the event, a relational description, reminiscent of Dorothy Wordsworth’s practice of walking backwards and forwards retracing her steps, when she was unable to take to the hills, an exercise in allowing the mind to free itself through the motion of the body. A celebration of resilience, recovery and restoration one step at a time.

Open in the Window Gallery 13 July – 11 August
Preview: Friday 12 July, 6pm – 8pm