A Letter from the Editor
December 21st, 2015
Unease runs like a poisoned vein through this, our nineteenth issue of StepAway Magazine. This is, perhaps, no coincidence. On the evening of 13th November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out in six locations across Paris.
Paris – a city that urban walkers hold so dear, the birthplace of the flâneur. It is with a sad irony that on the very streets where the joy and freedom of walking was first championed in literature and art, an unthinkable event occurred that would ask us to reassess our safety as urbanites.
The victims of these attacks were cut down in the midst of doing the very things that we love – wandering the streets at night, lounging in cafés, indulging in the spectacle of city life. In their innocence they were unprepared for what would follow.
Those orchestrating the attacks intended to bring terror not just to Paris, but to all cities. The intention being to make us live in fear, to feel vulnerable, to think twice about doing those things we love. Yet, as the people of New York rallied themselves in the days and weeks following 9/11, Parisians took to the streets of their city the very next day in an act of defiance.
Great cities of the world can never be halted. Unease and vigilance has always been part and parcel of urban walking. Whether navigating nineteenth century London or twenty-first century New York, the savvy pedestrian was always required to pre-empt and accept threat. The nature of that threat may change from decade to decade, and location to location, but it does not and will never stop us walking and revelling in the pleasures of our cities.
The lifeblood of a city is its people. As I write this, a crowd is surging through the major arteries of Paris, London, New York and every other city that has suffered at the hands of terrorists. This footfall, this momentum is immense and unstoppable. The terrorists can never win.
It is therefore an even greater pleasure to publish Angel Ackerman’s “This Paris”, a sensory celebration of the city which was written before the attacks.
The opening story of Issue Nineteen, is entitled “Distagon View” by photographer Jonathan Bradley. Jonathan is the Newcastle City Council’s Artist in Residence for Byker Old Town, a neighbourhood located in the Byker ward in the east of the city. I volunteered to accompany Jonathan on his photoshoots with the intention of writing walking narratives that would accompany his work. The experience has been incredibly rewarding, and we have built up a significant body of material documenting the area. Jonathan offered to write his own walking narrative as a response to our walks, the result being “Distagon View”. The story is written ingeniously from the point of view of a camera, in this case a V System Hasselblad. “Distagon” refers to the 9 element Carl Zeiss lens that Jonathan frequently uses.
Jonathan is also the contributor of our stunning cover shot, which was taken at Clapham North Underground Station in London. He has spent over eight years working on a project named People : Space, the exposition of humans and their surrounding environments, how our environments around us make us feel. His website can be found here.
We also have a fantastic line up of writers including: Raef Boylan, D. Othniel Forte, Joachim Frank, James Gabriel, Grant Tarbard and Steph Thompson. I leave you in their most capable hands.
Wishing you a peaceful, prosperous and perambulatory 2016.
Darren Richard Carlaw