16-17 May 2015 (ongoing), Warnscale Fells, Buttermere

Warnscale: A Land Mark Walk Reflecting on In/Fertility and Childlessness (Warnscale) is a self-guided walk specific to, and created in, Warnscale, an area of fells to the south of Buttermere Lake, Cumbria. The performance is mediated through a walking guide and art book and is aimed at women who are childless-by-circumstance.

Society offers no rituals or rites of passage through which women who have 'missed' the life-event of biological motherhood can be acknowledged and can come to terms with that absence. This walking performance, however, offers imaginative and creative ways through which women can engage with landscape to reflect upon and even transform their experience of this circumstance. The book through which it is experienced provides a multilayered yet non-prescriptive means for the walker — whether walking alone, with a partner, friend or in a group — to make and perform their own journey, and can also be used by others who are in sympathy with women in this circumstance and persons in comparable situations.

Louise developed Warnscale through research that involved a series of group and one to one mapping-walks with women who are childless-by-circumstance, residencies at fertility clinics, in-depth study of the landscape, conversations with people with local knowledge and studying the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, who walked in and wrote extensively about her visual and em-bodied experience of the landscape of the Lake District.

The book combines a guide to the walk and the landscape with original drawings and photographs by Louise, the words of Dorothy Wordsworth, written and visual reflections on infertility and invitations to immerse oneself in the landscape in different ways designed to encourage contemplation of one’s own life experience. It is an artist’s book which is also a many layered guide book. 

The limited edition book (with geology hand lens) is available to order at a subsidised price of £23 (plus P&P) hereGroups and individuals can undertake the walk in their own time.

Author and Designer: Louise Ann Wilson.

Publishers: Louise Ann Wilson Company Limited.

ISBN: 978-0-9932664-0-9

With thanks to:

The mapping-walk participants.

Joyce Harper, Institute for Women's Health, UCL; Celia Roberts, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University; Jody Day, Gateway Women; Wanda Georgiades and the CARE Fertility Group; the embryology team, The Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health, London; the archivists at the Wellcome Trust.

Mr Richardson, Gatesgarth Farm; Honister Slate Quarry; Barbara Ibberson, Old School House, Buttermere; The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry; Mike Kelly, Geologist; Mark Astley, National Trust; Jean Johnston, Natural England; Denis Mollison and the Mountain Bothies Association; Helen Turton, Mountain Leader.

The Armitt Museum; Jeff Cowton and the archivist at The Wordsworth Trust; Andrew Stuck of Talking Walking; John Rodwell; Andy Edwards; Simon Bainbridge; Geraldine Harris and Andrew Quick, LICA, Lancaster University.

The Directors of Louise Ann Wilson Company Ltd (Linda Broughton, David Honeybone and Derek Tarr) and Peter Reed, Producer for the company.

Book Printers: Bowmans, Leeds. 

Digital Layout: Gareth Dennison, Morph Films, Lancaster.

The project and publication has been made possible using public funding by Arts Council England; grants from the Arts & Humanities Research Council and Seedbed Trust; and support from Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University.