|FlâneuR, RTomens, 2018|
To walk in the city is to be consumed by the city. It's often said in the negative sense that cities 'consume' people. The multitude of people, traffic, noise and buildings can all overwhelm and increase feelings of isolation and that ironic form of loneliness.
Yet the flâneur represents the opposite idea; a wanderer, free from prescribed directions, simply exploring for the pleasures that the city's labyrinth provides. As cyclists, LJ and I have remarked on how much more than motorists we see, usually in relation to countryside trips, but the same applies to the urban environment. Walking naturally takes this idea further.
The irony of the city and all it's architectural wonders is that most of its inhabitants walk without seeing them. Sucked at speed as if caught in the wake of the traffic we hurry through the streets. It takes a conscious effort not to get caught up in the pace of life in London and, presumably, most major cities. That said, tourists idly wandering in your path prove an irritant.
The city is unknowable for the majority of it's inhabitants. Our tendency and that of many others, I suspect, is to do most of the walking on our patch (Camden). Yet even one borough would take many days to fully explore. Have we been down this street before? No? Then let's go look. Sure enough, London's architecture being as diverse as it is, a newly-discovered house will prove interesting. It may be an ivy-coated, drably-painted, cracked gothic mansion (by city standards), or a new spin on 60s modernism squashed between rows of Victorian houses.
Occasionally, when the city becomes too much, I may dream of a quiet life in the country. Yet every time I do so I remind myself of all the as yet unknown pleasures the city streets can offer. That and the obvious benefits of the art galleries, music event etc.
So, FlâneuR began like this...
...which I found pleasing enough. The idea of an 'R' travelling along blocks of colour. But then I imagined it travelling through the city and added the appropriate imagery by printing it as back and foreground in two colours. The first version may be likened to a country walk; the second, a more frantic urban version.