The three-month long art project the culminated with Walking Wiltshire’s White Horses had a dramatic finale on Monday (August 26.) Accompanied by a samba band, the walkers paraded their eight silk banner – one huge banner for each white horse monument – in Devizes’ Market Square.
The whole project was titled Freedom on my Doorstep.
The Square was full of a large Bank Holiday crowd enjoying the final hours of Devizes’ International Street Festival.
To applause and cheers, the walkers holding aloft the colourful silk banners wove their way through the packed Square.
The banners were designed during a series of workshops at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes and were inspired by the silk ‘escape maps’ used during the Second World War by spies and airmen escaping after they had been shot down.
For artist Ali Pretty, digital artist Richard White and their followers it was the final stage of the hundred mile, five day walk linking Wiltshire’s eight white horse monuments.
Ali Pretty descibed to Marlborough News Online the entry into Devizes: "It felt really fantastic. We all felt a sense of achievement - it was quite an emotioinal occasion."
On Sunday the band of walkers had gathered at Marlborough library at 9.00am to start the penultimate day of their trek – a nineteen mile walk via Martinsell Hill and ending at Pewsey’s white horse.
The Pewsey white horse – on the downs below the road to Everleigh – was originally cut into the grassland in 1785 and is said to have included a rider. The present horse is a 1937 re-design by a Mr George Marples.
In the days when the village was a much larger centre for the Pewsey Vale’s agricultural community, it was cut by men from the Pewsey Fire Brigade. On Sunday it was the scene of some rehearsals for the choreography on the final day.
Down below them in the Vale farmers were hard at work on the harvest - trying to beat the rain.
On Sunday Ali Pretty and her walkers had six banners – two more were to be collected during the Monday walk to Devizes via Alton banners and Devizes’ own white horse.
After their welcome in Devizes market Square – and joined by the Devizes International Street Festival’s director Dave Buxton – the group made the last few yards to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum where Ali and Richard have been artists in residence.
Their installation there – with more banners, framed versions of the designs, digital displays and soundscapes – is open until August 31.
At the end of such a long project, and having met so many people, adults from all walks of life and children keen to take part, Ali Pretty was very sad to be leaving the area to start her next project: "It's been a really, really brilliant five days. The people with us tell us they've had a powerful experience. We've connected with so many people - adults and children."
She hopes she will be back in this area of Wiltshire very soon.
At the museum you can buy versions of their silk designs, one ‘escape map’ representing each of the locations for the eight white horses, either on a small scale as handkerchiefs or much larger as scarves.
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