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Deveron Projects walkers make headway in virtual journey around the world

By Lorna Thompson

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A NORTH-EAST arts group is urging people to tag along on its online walk around the world this year.

Deveron Projects' annual Slow Marathon has gone virtual for 2020 and forms part of its Under One Sky project to chart people's walks from across the globe.

The vision is to use the reach of the internet to connect people and break down borders.

So far 241 participants have walked over one-third of the way around the Earth. The Slow Marathon 2020 will finish when participants have jointly and symbolically walked the 1000 marathons or 26,000 miles around the world.

Through Under One Sky, artist Iman Tajik is urging walkers to look up and take pictures of the sky on their wanderings.

These images will be brought together in a massive artwork to show that, like coronavirus, the sky knows no borders.

On Saturday, June 20, the artist held a Facebook Live conversation and film screening to mark World Refugee Week (June 15-21), with people also encouraged to post images of flowers along with the hashtags #flowersofwelcome, #worldrefugeeday and #underonesky.

The Slow Marathon concept was formed in collaboration with Ethiopian artist Mihret Kebede in 2012 and has been held annually since. It is described both as an endurance event as well as a poetic act that brings together friendship, physical activity and an appreciation of landscapes.

Deveron Projects' annual Slow Marathon is being held virtually this year. Illustration: Jacques Coetzer.
Deveron Projects' annual Slow Marathon is being held virtually this year. Illustration: Jacques Coetzer.

Petra Pennington, art and community worker at Deveron Projects, said: "This project is about so much more than walking. We're grateful that so many people from different walks of life engaged with our programme of thinking during Refugee Week. By talking about the barriers faced by people around the world, we edge closer to dismantling them.

"Part of this is the legacy of colonialism, as expressed eloquently by Teefa, the Sudanese refugee whose perspective we followed in the film screening: 'They have been in my country and taken what they wanted, but they don't accept me in theirs'. Artist Iman Tajik also reminded us that but for changes out of our control, we could all find ourselves becoming a refugee."

Huntly-based Deveron Projects is urging people to join the 2020 Slow Marathon whether on foot or wheels.

People can register to take part in the project at https://www.deveron-projects.com/slowmarathon2020/.

A Slow Marathon: Under One Sky public Facebook group has also been set up for all those interested or taking part, where people are encouraged to share their walks, thoughts and photos with each other and the artist.

Before the pandemic struck, this year’s event had been originally planned as a 26-mile walk from the Cabrach to Huntly on June 13.

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