An Interview with Kate Green

An Interview with Kate Green
  • Monday 23rd September -

An Interview with Kate Green

We caught up with artist Kate Green ahead of her 'Walking The Pipe' event to be held this Saturday 28th September at the Bleddfa Centre. Kate has been having an extremely adventurous and productive summer, embarking on her mammoth challenge of walking the length of the Elan Valley aqueduct which stretches over 73 miles from the Elan Valley estate in Mid Wales all the way to the city of Birmingham. No stranger to walking huge distances, Kate has previosuly completed a "Triangle Walk" from Bleddfa to the Hurst, on to the Rodd and back to Bleddfa, producing a book of poetry and accompanying photographs. You can find out more about that and Kate's current adventures via 

Bleddfa Centre: You have recently walked along sections of the aqueduct pipeline from the Elan Valley to Birmingham, did you do it all in one long journey or in stages and how long did it take you to complete?

Kate Green: The aqueduct itself is 73 ½ miles long but only on certain sections can you follow rights of way directly along its route, meaning that my walk was quite a bit longer. This August I walked from Bleddfa to Frankley over 5 consecutive days, covering around 100 miles. Next July I plan to walk ‘upstream’ from Bleddfa to the Elan Valley over 2 days.

BC: Did you have a favourite part/place during your journey?

KG: When I walked into the pretty town of Wolverley on the sunny evening of day 4 there was a shout, ‘Are you Kate?’ from outside the pub and I was given a warm welcome and a cold pint from the locals. We spread the OS map out on the table and they helped me plan the next day’s route to Frankley. For the project to be received with such enthusiasm and interest from strangers was very special.

BC: Was there a worst place or part of the journey?

KG: On the last afternoon I was getting very tired. Heavy rain in the night had made the ground muddy and my boots were wet. I could see the wood I wanted to walk through on the other side of a large house and, although there was a path marked on my map, ‘private property’ signs and a large gate blocked my way. I tried to detour but found myself being pushed further and further in the wrong direction. In the end I decided to face the consequences and jumped over the gate. The path through the wood was directly behind it. 

BC: What originally inspired you to take on this challenge/adventure?

KG: I have been aware of ‘The Pipe’ for about 20 years when I first spotted it crossing in front of a farm in Nantmel on a trip to the Elan Valley. Many years later I heard the phrase ‘Walking the Pipe’ in relation to the Walksmen who were responsible for its maintenance by regularly walking sections. Then, in 2017, further research inspired an ‘exploratory performance’ piece and that developed into this current project.

BC: What has your experience inspired you to create as a result?

KG: Walking the Pipe brings together elements of walking and talking, research and writing, music and singing; culminating in a series of collaborative community events this Autumn. What is so exciting about Walking the Pipe as a multi-disciplinary, creative endeavour is that everyone involved becomes part of the artwork. This has inspired me to make contemporary art that is accessible to everyone (particularly in rural areas) and I have been thrilled by the positive response the project has received. 

BC: You recently met Clare Balding during one of your rambles, can you tell us a bit about what that was like?

KG: Clare is exactly as she appears on the TV – fast, funny and very professional. When Radio 4 approached me, they asked if I could invite a couple of other people who I had met through the project and so Andy Holman from Bleddfa (who will be talking at Saturday’s event) and Tim Hipkiss (who has walked from Birmingham to the Elan Valley) joined us. The day was great fun and it should be an entertaining show – broadcast date 3rd October – as we all have particular areas of EVA interest and the conversation was quite eclectic. Andy got to say ‘hairy genitals’ and I think at one point I may have been termed an ‘anorak’!

BC: What made you choose The Bleddfa Centre as a place to tell your story and perform your music in?

KG: There are so many reasons why The Bleddfa Centre is ideal – not least because it lies directly on the aqueduct!  But on a personal note, last summer I undertook a three-day walk, sleeping under a tarp, from The Bleddfa Centre to The Hurst to The Rodd and back to The Bleddfa Centre. My aim was to connect these three artistic points, all having their own distinct creative discipline, with a continuous line. It was quite a journey that pushed me to my physical and mental limits, resulting in ‘Triangle Walk’ - a collection of poetry and images. Bleddfa’s long tradition of nurturing storytelling and music, coupled with the village’s recent upheaval as the new tunnel was built a few years ago, makes it the perfect place to hold the first Walking the Pipe event.

BC: Finally, what can we expect to experience at your event on Saturday?

KG: Lots of fun and great conversation! The afternoon begins at 4.30pm with a walk to see some of the Pipe features around Bleddfa. It will be over uneven steep ground so please dress accordingly. For those who don’t want/are unable to do the walk there will be a ‘pop up museum’ and exhibition to view. Then at 6pm there will be a short presentation about the ‘Walking the Pipe’ project followed by an illustrated talk by Andy about his adventures canoeing down the old tunnel and restoration of a windmill that once drew water directly from the aqueduct. After a ‘navvy supper’ of vegetable stew with bread and pickled cabbage (for scurvy) musicians Faith Brackenbury and John Neilson and myself will perform specially composed songs telling the tales, past and present, of the Elan Valley Aqueduct. Oh, I believe there is a bar too!

Tickets are only £5 but if you are able, please do let us know if you are planning on attending as this will help us to gauge how much food to prepare in advance.

To book your tickets for Saturday's event please email or call 01547 550 377