Walking Distance Dorchester is a project funded by the Dorchester Business Improvement District (DBID) and the Arts Council England (ACE) to increase footfall and enhance the walking experience in central Dorchester.
Dorchester is an historic and well-preserved town of significance in the county of Dorset, therefore it has a real sense of its own identity and past. There is evidence of neolithic and stone-age settlements, a bustling roman town, as well as the presence of its favourite son, Thomas Hardy. As part of the research phase, I was keen to get an understanding of Dorchester from a personal perspective, and to celebrate the memories of the inhabitants. On the Winter Solstice of 2013, participants were invited to light a candle for Dorchester and leave a personal memory behind in exchange for a unique bone china candle holder.
Each one contained a couplet from The Year Clock, a poem about the passing of the seasons, written in the old Dorset dialect by local poet and writer William Barnes. During the shortest day of the year, 200 candles lit up the interactive map, before the candle holders were taken home by the participants. What was so beautiful about this piece was the emotional resonance that people willingly left, with memories of loved ones lost, and houses sadly left behind. It is very hard to engage with people in such a meaningful way through a single interaction, but the installation had a depth and sincerity that allowed the participant to trust and believe in the process. The memories can be seen printed on a series of bespoke clocks strategically placed around Dorchester.