A walk around King’s Lynn

Back in May I headed up to King’s Lynn to do a talk and walk at Groundwork Gallery for a fantastic show by arts collective Haptic/Tacit called FieldWork. I’d produced a commissioned essay to accompany the show which you can read on the Groundwork website:

Field work is the work. What follows is the echo. I sit in this very chair skimming through video clips of expeditions through the West London Industrial Belt, the newbuilds colonising Albert Island, the looming transformation of Thamesmead, the freakzone on Orford Ness, the point in Essex where the shimmering sand tempts you to do a death walk along the Broomway. All of England, both real and imagined crumbles into the North Sea off the Suffolk and Norfolk coast. This is edgeland in its most literal sense. The ghost church bells of the lost city Dunwich tolling beneath the waves. W.G. Sebald striding through the East Anglian landscape, walking away from a gnawing melancholy yapping at his heels. ‘Read Sebald and you can never look at the landscape in the same way again’, wrote Suffolk resident Roger Deakin.

continue reading here

After the talk at Groundwork Gallery and a look at the Haptic/Tacit show we went for a stroll around the medieval quarter of King’s Lynn in the company of three town guides with my occasional interjections. Amongst the feast of heritage architecture we were led through a low doorway into a garden where the 14th Century buildings would have faced a wharf where goods were unloaded from across Europe in the period when the town derived great prosperity from being part of the Hanseatic League. The newest buildings in this former commercial enclave dated from the 16th Century.

Our walk ended looking out along the waters of the Great Ouse towards the North Sea. It was a fantastic introduction to the wonders of this storied Norfolk town. I must return soon to further pick up the threads of its watercourses and pilgrim trails.