Artistic walks developed around Chelmsley Wood

Sound walks and interactive walking maps encouraging reimagination of local places.

Sarah Taylor Silverwood and SOUNDkitchen (Annie Mahtani and Iain Armstrong) have developed a series of immersive Artists Walks taking people on a journey from Marston Green train station into Chelmsley Wood working with residents, community groups and local school children.

Commissioned by Eastside Projects as part of their Link + Shift Artists walk series of projects, supported by West Midlands Railway, the walks uncover new and unexpected stories, animating the area and encouraging people to reimagine the places in which they live.

SOUNDwalk: B37, created by SOUNDkitchen’s Annie Mahtani and Iain Armstrong, explores the green spaces of the B37 postcode area in Solihull, offering a new way of experiencing the local environment as it guides walkers through an immersive journey of audio encounters. On route, discover the hidden sounds of bats and underwater life, listen to wind and rain on metal structures, learn to identify different trees, and forage for food guided by local people passionate about wildlife.

The walk has four routes that can be explored as individual walks or as part of a longer experience. The walks and audio can be downloaded for free via the SOUNDwalker app.

SOUNDkitchen commented: “We live in a very visually dominated world and we think the core of what we’re doing is engaging people in the act of listening, so we try and do that in ways that make it interesting or exciting for people. So, in this walk there’s stories from local people, recordings of underwater life and interesting information about the wildlife you’ll encounter along the routes.

“It’s great to share SOUNDwalk: B37 developed with the amazing people we’ve been working with over the last few months. We really hope you download the app and come and try the walk and enjoy exploring the green spaces of B37!”

The B37 Project added: “It’s been really good to see a lot of people involved in this, there’s a lot of open knowledge, there’s a lot of experts talking about what’s going on locally, I think that’s really good. The sound walk is different to what I was expecting, it’s a lot more immersive. I’m really pleased we opted to work with SOUNDkitchen because I think it’s something different for the people who are in B37.”

Sarah Taylor Silverwood worked with a group of budding artists from Fordbridge Community Primary School to explore alternative stories about the local landscape through a series of activities including; walking storytelling workshops, comic making and co-designing an interactive illustrated map of the area. Together they created Adventure Awaits, an interactive Walking Map of Chelmsley Wood, available to download via the Eastside Projects

Over the course of the project, Sarah made a cartoon illustrating the alternative landmarks and weird and wonderful imaginary characters created by the children including an octopus escaping from a skatepark, a group of gossiping blades of grass, and slimy gunk slithering off a park bench.

Artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood said: “I’ve been working with kids from Fordbridge Primary on this project since back in March, thinking about those weird landmarks you recognise as kids, like a strange tree or bit of graffiti. We developed stories and characters with the kids inspired by the area around Fordbridge into a hand drawn animation and interactive map.

It was loads of fun working on this project, going from in real life workshops to zoom, then taking the maps back outside to explore once again!”

Morven Binning, Fordbridge Primary School, Art/Design & Technology lead, went on to add: “The maps look amazing! There’s a real buzz about them and the children can’t wait to use them to explore. We’ve loved working with Sarah and Eastside on this project and the children really got a lot from it!”

Both SOUNDwalk: B37 and Adventure Awaits are free to download. Visit Eastside Projects for more information.

For SOUNDwalk: B37 download the free SOUNDwalker app to your smartphone. The app will stream audio if you have a good connection, but this can use up your data and battery life. We recommend using wifi to download the audio files in advance so it will run offline. Open the app, select B37, click the download button.

Once downloaded, travel to one of the walking routes shown on the map, open the app and select the B37 walk from the menu. Plug in your headphones then make your way to the listening points shown in the app where the audio tracks will begin to play.