Review by Douglas Stockdale •
Paul Gaffney investigates a regional passion that is prevalent amongst those of the isles of Great Briton, that of walking. Whereas the leisure walks or foot journeys in the isles are usually of a short duration, Gaffney expanded the scope and range of his visual walking quest to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles). Gaffney’s viewpoint is close to midpoint, essentially minimizing the visual clues as to the actual location. This framing visually teases the reader to look closer and deeper into the image. The ambiguous images are contemplative and lyrical, sometimes looking ahead or the passing viewpoint as one might walk by.
A classic, yet well visualized, allegory for the journey of life, that while in transit there lays ahead a potential separation of the ways and one must chose one path over another. For a walker it is possible to walk one path and then return back for to the other, but in the passing duration, small atmospheric and chance occasions occur. Likewise a walker does not need to remain on a given path, but create one of their own making. His book ends with a crossroads, with the path in front dissolving into the distance, where the unknown lies in wait.
Reading We Make the Path by Walking just connects with me. I enjoy the photographs of his journey and the many options and possibilities that lie before me/him, while yet enjoying the view in transit. I find Gaffney’s book to be a wonderful metaphor for the messiness of living life.
Gaffney’s photobook is a text-printed stiff cover book that resides in a printed ¾ slip cover. The slip cover design suggests an individual’s pocket, representing a place for the small guide booklets that many walkers acquire to prepare for a walk in a specific region.
The interior book block has an exposed binding due to the front endpapers are not attached to the cover. The block is affixed to the back cover by means of gluing the endpapers to the back cover and the end paper is included as a part of the last signature. The binding itself appears to be a Smyth bound with gluing, which allows the book to provide a lay-flat viewing, which I really enjoy. A book design with an exposed binding is intriguing as to the metaphoric intent, which in this case the photographs, as well as the narrative, appears to be open ended and thus the journey is still not complete.
We Make the Path by Walking – Paul Gaffney
Self published, Paul Gaffney, UK, Copyright 2013
Designer & Editing: Paul Gaffney