PORT walking art project (2021-)

Across four different coastline localities around the UK, artists Henna Asikainen (Newcastle), Louise Barrington (Kirkwall, Orkney), Elspeth Penfold (Whitstable, Kent), & Stephanie Whitelaw (Portobello), curated & initiated by Rosy Naylor (Portobello), have recently been working together to explore connections between their locations, through walking at distance & considering impacts of changing climates.

SAT 11TH SEPT 10.30am

A synchronised walk will take place to introduce the project involving the four UK coastlines (Tankerton, Kent; Scapa Beach, Orkney; Holy Island, Northumberland; and Portobello).

Stephanie Whitelaw guides the event from Portobello with a ’slow water walk': an invitation to walk and spend time, with and within the sea; to immerse and take part in the sea’s daily rhythms. With low tide, we will explore the many forms the sea harbours and homes. You will be invited to touch, breathe, play and splash with the sea; sensing surfaces. Beginning at Bellfield Street, the walk will explore the coastline towards Musselburgh.

At the same time participants will also be walking waters at the three other locations. Rising waters, pollution, & changing weathers have been common areas of discussion between the artists with many of the walks centring around these concerns.

During September, Porty Light Box exhibits mappings that thread together the four coastline locations.

About Stephanie Whitelaw:
Artist and eco-therapist, Stephanie Whitelaw encourages through her art practice personal engagements with local landscapes, both physical and digital, cultivating a deeper sense of understanding. Exploring themes of reciprocity, her work harnesses dialogue with nature in both urban and rural contexts, through walking, site-responsive art and object making. Eco-therapy is woven through Stephanie’s facilitated works; building safe spaces that encourage a deeper sense of understanding ourselves, each other and the eco-system which we are a part of.



HENNA ASIKAINEN | Holy Island of Lindisfarne

A participatory walk taking place between two shores, along the ancient pilgrim’s way, across the tidal sands to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. 
This landscape is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The inevitable sea level rise will eventually transform the landscape by submerging the ancient path as well as parts of the island permanently.  The walk across the tidal path is led by people with a lived experience of displacement and of seeking sanctuary. Together we will walk the path to meet island residents, share food, reflect on the idea of sanctuary, hospitality and welcome.  By linking the local environment with the physical impact of climate change and the related issue of population displacement the walk draws attention to the difficult social effects that climate change brings with it.


Finnish artist Henna Asikainen is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Her artwork explores questions surrounding the human relationship with nature. The work has developed alongside increasing scientific, social and political concern for the habitability of the planet and the possibly permanent damage our current economic system is causing to the habitats of humans and all other living things. Her recent work has been participatory, combining ecological issues with social issues and has centred on engaging with people with lived experience of migration and displacement. These projects have been built around communal and social experiences within rural landscapes and have examined issues including inequalities in access to nature and green spaces, migration, the sense of belonging and humans’ complex relationship with nature while advocating the philosophy of friendship and radical hospitality.

LOUISE BARRINGTON | Scapa Beach, Orkney

A walk beginning at the cliff where the Scapa distillery overlooks, walking the curve of the beach to the pier and the small sandy beach behind it. This small beach is Louise's everyday walk 20 minutes from where she lives.


"The view from where I live overlooks Scapa flow, it’s a continuous moving image, the flow of movement, rhythm and patterns from the changing season informs my artistic practice."

Writer Edwin Muir stated of his youth, in Orkney ’A place where there was no great distinction between ordinary and fabulous.’ This everyday ordinary/fabulous allows Louise to reimagine the vast landscapes of Orkney and the in between moment of dust, dawn and twilight, creating a restrained colour palette for her work. This in-between-ness resonates with the Japanese concept of Ma, as it takes into consideration the space between two distinct markers.

ELSPETH PENFOLD | Tankerton, Kent

This walk will engage with a concern for water, following the local headline: ‘Southern Water - Putting the sh*t into Whitstable’.
We will walk from Tankerton to the sewage works in Swalecliff. We will use hapticity and psychogeography to leave behind the co-ordinates of what we habitually notice. Our attention will be guided by the elements, including the ground, the temperature and wind. Invited participants will knot hand spun ropes to record their participation in the walk.


Elspeth (Billie) Penfold (MRSS FRSA) is a textile artist who combines walking, weaving and performative storytelling. Billie uses hapticity and psychogeography to explore narratives. She hand spins ropes which are knotted by participants as part of performative events. In 2014, Billie formed a group called Thread and Word. Through this group Billie uses digital media, sound and locative mapping to create hybrid, in person and digital walking events. Billie’s approach to multi-layered storytelling is influenced by her Andean background. Her practice allows for many voices, moving away from a linear view of the world and avoiding a linear interpretation.