Deirdre Macleod, 2020

Deirdre Macleod's 'LandMark' Residency

Deirdre Macleod has a longstanding interest in how cities work and how those who live in cities experience them. Her current research explores how gesture-based performance might help tell the story of cities. She starts from the premise that movement-based performance is a form of enquiry which can help make sense of lived experience and create new forms of knowledge.

Since the emergence of the Coronavirus, and particularly since lockdown, we have moved differently within public space. Time outside has become precious and, often, solitary and we are still unable to visit, and be physically close to, those with whom we do not live. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of urban public space to individuals and communities.

Deirdre will use her 2020 'LandMark' residency to create a set of performance instructions, or ‘scores’, for a series of six gesture-based pieces of work. One score will be published every month, between June and November 2020. The scores will also be archived for future performance so that we can remember, in years to come, the bodily sensation of how this time felt to us.

Designed as works for people to perform on their own (but in concert with others at a distance) each piece of work within Flow Lines draws upon observed gestures by solitary individuals. These movements and gestures have been observed within Portobello during the recent period of social distancing.

Each will explore an aspect of the more solitary condition in which we find ourselves at the moment, reflecting our current separateness and our desire for connection.

A short set of instructions for performing each work will be published online. Anyone can follow the instructions and perform the work.

Deirdre will also be approaching other people across Scotland, the UK and internationally to invite them to participate in these performative works, to record their responses and, in dialogue with them, to develop ideas for further projects that will be published as part of the Flow Lines series.

The first of the Flow Lines scores is described below. Scores for new pieces of work will be added on this page on the 15th day of every month between June and November 2020.

You are welcome to take a photo of yourself performing any of the pieces. Please send it to: detailing the location of the place where the work was performed (name of sea/river/canal; nearest town; country). If you use social media please also post your image with hashtag #flowlines @artwalkporty

June 2020

In human geography, flow lines record the movement of people, such as commuters or migrants, between one place and another. In physical geography, flow lines on oceanographic maps describe how ocean waters circulate around the world.

On your own, and maintaining a self-isolating distance of at least two metres from anyone nearby, make your way to a sea, or ocean, which is near you. If you live far from the sea, make your way to a nearby stream or river. A canal is also fine, as long as it eventually joins the sea. Take off your shoes and roll up your trousers. Stand in the sea, river or canal.

Bid goodbye to the water which laps around your ankles. Wish it farewell as it flows to other countries’ shores to meet the people who may paddle there.

Put your hand in the water and shake hands with all of those who are now linked to you by water, but whom you cannot visit, at the moment, by land or air.

Deirdre Macleod, Playing Up 2017


Deirdre Macleod explores material and other aspects of towns and cities, including the more or less hidden patterns, systems, regulations and strictures that operate within them. Her practice is informed by the discipline of Human Geography.

Within her work, she draws upon a range of fieldwork methods and observational strategies. Recently, she has begun to investigate how performative actions (for example, looking intently, rule-based walking and listening, playing made-up games and improvised group dance) can reveal, and help us understand, aspects of urban experience that might otherwise be hidden.

Deirdre studied Geography at the University of Cambridge and holds a Masters Degree in Politics from the University of Edinburgh. After working in public policy analysis and development for 16 years, she returned to study Painting at Edinburgh College of Art.

She currently teaches Art and Design and Access to Art and Design at the Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh. Recently she has been Artist in Residence at the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh.

Deirdre Macleod, Festoon 2018. Photo: Jon Davey