Abstract: Splace: Place in the Space of Walking, Far North, South Australia - Dr Paul Reader

In sedentary life the idea of place is usually fixed, one place or another, but in walking or traveling with a sensibility to place one can find the same 'place' as similar ecologies, memory-informed experience and relationships to the new reoccurring as a kind of distributed place. Sensibility to place in space, unfolding recurring relationships does not really have an abstract label in the English language. Perhaps is should be called splacement or a sense of splace.

In 1984, after two years of working on a community heritage survey west of Lake Eyre in South Australia, I decided to walk from the Spencer Gulf to Oodnadatta, a distance a little over 500 miles, in order to get a better sense of the linkage between places previously only talked about or visited by four-wheel drive, during the survey. The journey followed a mix of traditional indigenous routes, those of the painter Hans Heysen and explorers, McDouall Stuart and Warburton. Over 500 photos were taken recording the trajectory of the walk. Image capture at the time was limited to 35mm materials carried with living essentials in a 40 Litre pack. The walk influenced two paintings and a number of other project ideas, however the journals and photographs were eventually put aside. In 2014, contact by grandchildren of the heritage team members rekindled interest in both the heritage survey and the walk, for how they might inform new considerations about land and place.

The questions now arising are: How to reform and maintain ecological relationships over distance? How individual human agency in these relationships can be considered? Will new walks be necessary to complement and extend knowledge into country, inaccessible or undesirable to visit by other means?


Paul Reader is a senior research fellow in the School of Education at University of New England, Australia. Finding a valid label at this point in history is difficult; rampant consumer, cyclically repentant risk-taking destroyer of Earth, would probably be more honest than post-structural artist. All are barely adequate for an inquirer in eco-arts, adult education and transformative learning. He is currently working on a university research seed grant (URSG) funded project: Reconstructing the Lower Southern Aranda/Wangkangurru Identity: Post-colonial approaches to indigenous knowledge and learning.

Painterly Methodology: painting and digital inquiry in adult learning, his doctoral thesis (2007) explored visual methods in education research, with a strong emphasis on the relationship between consciousness, theory and inquiry through visual practice. Art & Learning Networks (www.artlearn.net) his community development practice, has engaged in community arts, indigenous, environment and adult education projects for over 30 years, beginning as a Leeds Fine Art student exhibiting in British art festivals and galleries during the 1970s