Back in the summer, on a beautiful warm summer afternoon, myself and a couple of friends, in the manner of Winnie the Pooh, set out on an EXPOTITION: on a walk - this walk to be exact - a circular route beginning and ending at Croft Leisure centre and taking in Croft Wood, Wichelstowe Canal and Town Gardens.

I found a map on a walking website, and as none of us knew it well we thought it would be good to do. It's a lovely walk that takes you through Croft Wood - about which I know very little. The walk's start point in the car park of Croft leisure centre doesn't fill you with joy but no sooner do you step into Croft Wood, the leisure centre just behind you is light years away.

 Suffice it to say that the blurb on the walk makes no mention of the art to be seen on the route, which seems a pity. The art works of which I speak are on the Old Town railway path and, prior to taking this walk, I had no idea they existed. 

'There are five wheels, from the Old Town direction towards the railway and Wootton Bassett Road they are titled Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Conceive. Each wheel has two parts, a small wheel showing the Element, and a large wheel with a short piece of poetry. In addition, there is a sleeper crossing the path between each of the wheel pairs. Each of these lengths of wood has two words written on them'.

AIR: On hot places behind your knees On high downs a ghost is growing. Depth & disquiet.

EARTH: Our wheels relinquish and seize, relinquish and seize....Curious tenderness..second word obscured

FIRE: Pistons swell and shine, days are like face, Steam pumps the sky, this one this...Extinguished - the second word is hidden

WATER:  The stream fills a cut, Swills and wave, A new start, gravel and laughter, tick tock on the rim - the two words on the sleeper are not visible

CONCEIVE:  Stepping out, out of character, You interrogate, A chaos of bearings, Where is the unknown journeyman with his bag of fives, his measuring rod and chisel?  Hand & Eye

Following my original post about these art works on the blog I managed to get some more information about them.

It was back in 1980 that the disused railway line running along the southern flank of Swindon was saved from development by Swindon bike group who offered to construct a path for walking and cycling. But it wasn't until the mid-1990s that the bike group got an opportunity to get creative with the path.  

The poet, Fiona Sampson, who wrote the words for the wheels said this: 'The mix of the industrial and the natural and cyclic in Alec's design made me think hard about the ideas my poems needed to bridge; but it also inspired me to think about words as solid, powerful'.

I have only seen two of them as the walk I was doing didn't take in the whole of this path. But of the ones I did see...yep powerful would do it for me. And haunting too - if not in the best condition. Something that is sadly true for much of the public art in the town.