We Make The Path By WalkingUntitled #25, from We Make the Path by Walking, 2012 © Paul Gaffney

Our first Welsh study visit this year will be on Friday 28 February to Ffotogallery in Penarth for two solo exhibitions by Paul Gaffney and Michal Iwanowski. Both artists make work of an exploratory nature, during long and physically demanding walks far from the comforts of home to reflect on ideas of landscape, meditation and memory.

Walking is a hugely popular recreational activity in the UK as well as an important mode of transport and as such has spawned a huge ‘journey of discovery’ literature from Laurie Lee and Simon Armitage to the eponymous Cheryl Strayed.

The history of photography is however more closely associated with the car and the ‘road trip’, so this study presents an opportunity to take a different perspective. Paul Gaffney’s We Make the Path by Walking considers the notion of long distance walking as a form of meditation and personal transformation, while Michal Iwanowski’s work Clear of People retraces an epic journey his grandfather and great uncle made in 1945 after escaping from a prisoner-of-war camp in Russia, and in extreme hardship walked 2000 km to Poland in search of their family.

SkinnyMothers_2012Skinny Mothers, from Clear of People, 2013 © Michal Iwanowski

This study visit will be led by Photography Curriculum Leader Jesse Alexander with support from new tutor Helen Warburton who also works at Ffotograllery. Places are free for OCA students, to book a place please email enquiries@oca-uk.com


  1. Catherine 31 January 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Looks like a good visit. I bought Paul Gaffney’s book only the other week. No words, just the images and very simply made. I was a bit disappointed because the photographs look faded and quite flat rather than quietly vibrant like the one at the top here. I’ll be interested to read feedback on the visit to find out what the prints look like.

    1. Jesse 3 March 2014 at 11:01 am

      Well catherine…. I know what you mean – quite matt and fairly ‘earthy’, but I think that reflected the more diaristic feel of the project. I think the prints on the walls were similar – inkjets I think on matt paper, mounted on aluminium with a simple, narrow darkwood sub frame.

    2. annag 5 March 2014 at 7:41 am

      I too found the book disappointing after I had seen the exhibition. I think the problem lies with the printing rather than with the images: in the exhibitions the colours are much richer & deeper and the textures draw you right in.

    3. jsumb 5 March 2014 at 11:22 am

      I didn’t study the book (too busy talking and listening), but don’t forget there is a huge difference viewing the images on screen/book and on the wall. The images on the wall were reasonably contrasty – not overtly, but nicely saturated, lots of earthy tones, as Jesse remarks and if I remember rightly. The Gaffney images had slightly more vibrance than Iwanowski’s but with less emotional intensity to my reading.

  2. oliviairvine 31 January 2014 at 6:53 pm

    This sounds like a very interesting study visit indeed. There are quite a few artists working in various media interested in art made around walking, Richard Long perhaps being the obvious one. Psychogeography, which includes aimless urban wandering, is also a fascinating subject. One of my level three painting students is influenced by it and is writing her critical review on its origins and current influence. I wonder if any other students are interested in urban and/ or rural walking as a catalyst to make work. It would be good to share here.

    1. Jesse 3 March 2014 at 11:03 am

      Have a look at the book ‘Edgelands’ by Paul Farley and Michael Simmons Roberts. All about wondering (physically) and musing (poetically at times) about kinds of spaces in the English landscape

  3. Anne 3 February 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I don’t know whereabouts your student is Olivia, but if she’s near the West Midlands this exhibition might also be of interest to her http://www.macarts.co.uk/event/walk-on
    I haven’t seen it yet myself – it doesn’t start till Saturday.

  4. selinawallace 4 February 2014 at 10:41 am

    Interesting sounding exhibition – would be very relevant to Landscape 2 which I’m currently working on – specifically looking at the work of Richard Long as mentioned above. Thanks for posting about these artists, I shall investigate further, though won’t be in Wales for the exhibition.

    1. Gareth 4 February 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Good to know this is helpful Selina, when posting about study visits we aim to make the links useful pointers for research for those who can’t attend.

  5. heather512678 1 March 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I was lucky enough to be able to attend this event, and the work of both photographers considered separately and together was fascinating.

  6. Jesse 3 March 2014 at 11:07 am

    Thank you all for coming from far and wide (and closer to home) on Friday. It was great to have a good number of you and we had some really interesting conversations I think. It was particularly good to see new faces and hopefully Ffotogallery is on your ‘radar’ now and you will be able to get down/over/up/across again. The next show by Paul Reas will be well worth a visit, I’m sure. If you would like to further share your thoughts about Paul Gaffney and Michal Iwanowski’s work then please use this space!

    All the best and hope to see you all again soon,


  7. stingray493 4 March 2014 at 7:14 am

    I would like to say thanks to both Helen & Jesse for their time, enthusiasm and comments with regards to the OCA study visit to Cardiff (Friday 28/02/2014), I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a great deal.

    Ray Marrs (512720)

  8. annag 4 March 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I loved the exhibitions & have had a very insightful exchange of emails with Michal Iwanowski. If you would like to read about my views and email content, please have a look at my blog

  9. Catherine 6 March 2014 at 10:10 am

    It’s been very interesting to read the blog posts and thanks also Jesse, Anna and John for giving me some feedback on how the images looked on the wall. Jesse, I know some suggested reading was sent to those visiting. Would it be possible to have a link to it? I’ve looked at the photographers’ websites but wondered if there were other references.


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