Barefoot Walking + Grounding In Nene Park

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Finding Balance

Bringing equilibrium into the everyday with artist Sandra Keating

This project was a continuum of a barefoot walking series originally commissioned in 2019 by Peterborough Presents at Nene Park called “Off-the-beaten-path”. This was part of a series of works by environmental art therapy practitioner Sandra Keating exploring the physical, mental, emotional and physiological effects of grounding through conceptual barefoot walking practices. By using different areas of the park participants were invited to mindfully connect with Nene Park in new and different ways.

 What Sandra has learned from this time in a pandemic is that not everyone has access to abundant greenspace, the time or physical energy to always go on long barefoot walks. Research shows that this isn’t always necessary, the benefits for the mind/body can be attained in much less time and in simple, effective ways.

 “Finding Balance” was part of Mental Health Week 2021 after a year-long period of lockdown and Covid19 restrictions. This project aimed to help bring people back to some sort of equilibrium and mind/body balance using short grounding techniques and mindful barefoot walking practices. During a weekend Residency in Nene Park throughout Mental Health Week Sandra made audio and visual works whilst guiding small-groups and individuals on short socially distanced walks. This was for a small site-specific outdoor exhibition in Nene Park and to help continue creating a conversation around grounding as a fundamental wellbeing activity and to show how easily accessible and convenient it is for regular use.

‘Finding Balance’ and its predecessor have engaged over 250 people in person and has enabled them to experience Nene Park in a different way and also take part in practices that promote wellbeing.

The project has come together with this online exhibition, blog, film and there is also a mini installation at Lynch Lake Hub which is Nene Park. Visitors will be able to experience a little grounding exercise for themselves and this will be up from Early October to December.

We walked and we talked. Explored new areas, wandered in silence, felt the mud in-between our toes and the sand underneath our feet. We embraced sharings about all things pandemic and the cracks that we want to release or to make their way back together. We reminisced about footprints and our favourite barefoot memories.
Even those with shoes on and visitors in the park whilst wandering in the rain reconnections were made to a memory once lived – “Yes, now I’m thinking of it I miss it” and “All the things that are good for us we have forgotten, as a child in India and Kenya I would run around barefoot all day. It’s good for your eyes, we were told.”

Connected Conversations, 2021

Sandra Keating

About The Artist

Multidisciplinary artist Sandra Keating’s work connects people and environments. Responding to the emotional, physiological and psychological impacts from the lack of nature in today’s urban environments. This experiential work connects the dots between nature, art and therapy. Originally studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins with a conceptual practice rooted in therapeutic processes, Sandra later embarked on experiential Ecotherapy training with the late Martin Jordan, Hayley Marshall and was also part of The Circle of Trees an Environmental Arts Therapy group in North London with Gary Nash and Vanessa Jones.

Sandra’s Thoughts

“Finding Balance” combined with the previous walks in 2019 have presented Sandra with more than she could have imagined. All the ‘ooh’s and ah’s’, those sparks of joy in people’s faces and engaging connections and conversations she hopes will inspire more barefoot walking and grounding, both in Nene Park and beyond.

‘Finding Balance’ and its predecessor have engaged over 250 people in person and has enabled them to experience Nene Park in a different way and also take part in practices that promote wellbeing.

The project has come together with this online exhibition, blog, film and there is also a mini installation at Lynch Lake Hub which is Nene Park. Visitors will be able to experience a little grounding exercise for themselves and this will be up from Early October to December.

The Pandemic

The project was originally intended for 2020 before the pandemic. Postponed until 2021 after the lockdowns. It came as a blessing in disguise at a time when people needed it most and inspired some of the loveliest conversations. The walks gave space for reflections on loss, illness and cracks from the pandemic inspired by cracks in the earth’s surface after a dry Spring.

It’s a nice way to get back on the merry-go-round.

Group walk participant

Musing on life after lockdown and being part of the walk

Other Interesting Stuff

Well if you found that fascinating come and check out what else we have been doing!
Millfield Link – a case study

Millfield Link – a case study

Read: an insight into our work in Millfield from 2017 – 2022. The case study shares what happened, the learning and the challenges. Useful for others running community-based projects about telling stories through art.

read more
Creative wellbeing research

Creative wellbeing research

Read: we’ve been exploring how our programme can support personal and community wellbeing. This document pulls together a few links to research, organisations, toolkits and interesting quotes in case you’re interested in exploring this too

read more