Line(s) of Enquiry

Line(s) of Enquiry is a collaborative project between Walking the Land and the University of Gloucestershire’s Hardwick Gallery with an exhibition of artwork, writing, research, and exploratory materials presented at Hardwick Gallery between 24th February – 28th March 2025. Alongside the exhibition a symposium is planned for Friday 21 March 2025. Providing an opportunity to share more widely, and discuss in greater depth, outcomes from the project. This could include respondents from a variety of University departments and/or invited guest speakers and will be presented to a public audience, offering a launch point for new connections and further lines of enquiry.

Walking the Land artists will be responding to the Honeybourne Line, a former freight and passenger railway that brought in goods and connected Cheltenham to the wider region and beyond during the last century. Members of the group that live further afield have been invited to locate and engage with a linear route closer to home that resonates with the brief, in a form of linked study.

The Honeybourne Line, Summer 2023

The Honeybourne Line is entwined with over a century of social history and traces of its former life are abundantly evident. Line(s) of Enquiry will enable us to demonstrate the value of artistic research by looking beyond the track’s use and purpose to understand the Honeybourne Line through its ecologies: as topography, as habitat, as archive, as carrier of histories, as living museum, as network, as a place of movement, pause and transient encounters.

Artists will engage with the Honeybourne Line collectively through a series of shared seasonal First Friday Walks which also serve as research and stimulus for their individual creative responses. Generating engagement, dialogue and knowledge exchange through these shared walks, artistic practice and action research. Bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to consider the many possible lines of enquiry the Honeybourne Line presents.

The Honeybourne Line, Hunting Butts Tunnel, Spring 2024

The 1.3 mile paved section of the Honeybourne Line that travels through and borders residential communities, university campuses, the High Street, parks, primary schools and elder housing facilities in the west of Cheltenham, now functions as a busy commuter spine with cyclists and pedestrians heading to and from the railway station. A wealth of abundant flora can be found in its margins providing an important wildlife corridor which extends beyond the tarmac to become a wilder unmanaged footpath. A space which intersects farmland and ultimately connects to Cheltenham’s heritage railway that runs trains on part of the original Honeybourne Line route into the Vale of Evesham.

As a thought experiment, Line(s) of Enquiry allows us to attend to the Honeybourne Line as uncharted territory, to peel away what we know and reveal that which is made visible. The project can be understood as a ‘halt’ within the timeline of the Honeybourne Line, an opportunity to analyse the organisation of spatial, temporal and social fields of action at a particular point in its existence, specifically with art as the driver/producer of new knowledge, as a means to permeate the status quo, and develop spaces for critical engagement, affective encounter, and relational learning in the everyday.