Perambulator

Perambulator is a walking project that explores and reflects on the experience of walking with a pram (or pushchair).

Clare Qualmann, London, United Kingdom

In the first months of my son’s life, pushing his pram around the area that I have lived in for the last 12 years, I was struck by the number of detours that I had to take – the route alterations, the small (and not-so-small) impediments to smooth passage. My very familiar routes through and to places were rudely disrupted, forcing a new relationship with the very physical details of the urban environment.

A new radar evolves – seeking out the dropped kerbs and the ramps – avoiding steps, narrow gaps, awkward turns. Going the long way round becomes the norm, steering clear of particular places or particular routes because of their accessibility problems.

Viewing the city through this new lens feels political. Losing the freedom of easy mobility – a freedom that I hadn’t been aware of before – connects me to a massive group of people (predominantly women) in the same position, encumbered by wheels.

Perambulator is a project, a performance, which makes visible these issues through a mass walking (with prams) through and around a specific place. Adaptable to pretty much any location it seeks to highlight the everyday issues, annoyances, awkwardness and roundabout requirements of pram pushing.

I first made a version of the project as a one-off event at Lewisham art house in May 2012. In May 2014 I spent a month living and working in Huntly, Scotland, making a far more extensive version of the project in collaboration with pram users in the town. Commissioned by Deveron Arts as part of their innovative 'Walking Institute' programme the project here is extended - although it includes performance elements it also encompasses a range of other events and activities - including walks, workshops and talks.
The emerging themes are ones of gendered spaces, maternal narratives and shifting identities, inequality and mobilities. Two public walks - the 'Baby Slow Marathon' and the 'Perambulator Parade' were performed with participants, and a series of photographs were produced exploring the edges of accessibility of the town for pram users. Currently in production is a map of pram walking routes in Huntly.

Submitter

Clare Qualmann, London, United Kingdom

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