1000 Miles: Walking & Painting the Way of Saint James
Connecting to the heart of the Sense of Place on a journey that stretches back centuries
On 4 March 2019, I completed my first major art expedition. I walked 1000 miles (1600km) along the Way of Saint James, also known as the Camino de Santiago, stopping to paint en plein air every 5 miles along the entire route. The journey took 6 months.
The resulting body of work, consisting of 200 plein air paintings, tells the story of this ancient route as it is today and celebrates the value of a unique ‘Sense of Place’. By translating what I saw and experienced, these paintings share my personal conversation with the Way of Saint James and pay homage to the landscapes and the human narratives that intertwine and vibrate throughout this entire journey.
You can see thumbnail images of all 200 paintings HERE
This ancient pilgrimage route took me through France and Spain, up and over two mountain ranges, across high plateaus, through woodlands, along canals, through old stone villages and more.
In the course of the journey I walked and painted non-stop through 4 seasons; painting as the leaves gradually turned from their summer greens to their autumnal oranges and then as they fell, and as snow settled on the bare branches in their place. I finally arrived as the buds were starting to unfurl, the soft down of the pussy willow appeared, and the daffodils and spring crocuses burst out in welcome.
I wasn’t alone. Alongside me was my husband, Simon, pulling 40kg of painting equipment. I’ll never know how he managed to haul that load up some of those hills! Dupon, my beautiful donkey who stole my heart, carried the softer, lighter load of change of clothes, sleeping bags and tent. Every footfall, every moment I stood painting, every one of Dupon’s high jinx is etched into my memory.
Unfortunately, as winter took hold and food became more scarce, I said a tearful goodbye to Dupon and I hauled his load for the final 600km.
I painted on 9 x 12 ampersand pastelbords with Terry Ludwig pastels. Each painting took 3 hours, so I was standing up painting for 3 to 6 hours a day and walking for 5 or more hours. I can’t begin to explain the levels of emotional and physical exhaustion I experienced!
Every one of these paintings has its own story that adds to the cultural narrative of this route. I share these paintings and stories in my newly released book 1000 Miles; Walking & Painting the Way of Saint James.
LIMITED EDITION BOOK AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE HERE