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Cycling, In Search Of … Geocaches

It’s Not About The Numbers talks to two women entering an interesting cycle of their lives.

British duo Sally Newham and Sally Lemsford want to steer art – and geocaching – in a completely new direction.

Dressed in bright red costumes and towing a trailer dubbed the ‘Fantasy Museum’, the pair have been clocking up to 50 miles each day they pedal around their home county, collecting stories “about a precious object, person or event” from passers-by.

Now, 80 of those memories will be placed in geocaches to be created by the women for their Cycling, In Search Of …  project.

The self-described “geocaching virgins” say this latest artwork “accesses people by being out there, cycling around rather than being static in a gallery”.

“We collect stories from people we encounter and carry them in a trailer which has been transformed into a mini-museum. To keep it lightweight, we are unable to carry objects, just the stories which are written on labels.”

Newham, of South Normanton, is a keen cyclist but her team-mate from Codnor Park hadn’t been on a bike since she was a teenager so trained for three months before embarking on Cycling, in Search of ….

It’s been 18 months since “the initial seed” of their project was sown, and the two Sallys’ goals have changed slightly in that time. Originally, their story collection was to be displayed in a museum but after learning about geocaching, the women decided to use the hobby as a way to reach a wider audience.

That discovery is a “bit of a story in itself”, the tandem act says, with “a bed and breakfast guest from Scotland” explaining the concept to Newham. Lemsford had already heard of the hobby from another artist using geocaching “but didn’t understand how it worked”.

Fittingly, the sharing of this information has also helped the pair, who use the collaborative handle 2Sally4TH, keep their project open-ended. “Phase one – the collecting of stories – may be ongoing; we are planning how to develop it in different ways. Phase two is how to share those stories and make them travel independently. This could be by book or geocaching, or both.”

Lemsford adds that Cycling, In Search Of … is “education in its broadest sense”. “It is taking exciting contemporary art to isolated parts of the county to people who may not readily encounter or participate in contemporary art. It’s giving people a space to think about what their heritage is and what they want to retain.”

Their next step is to “create new geocaches and put a story in each with instructions to make them travel”.

A £1000 grant from Derbyshire County Council paid for their early travels but the women must fund the rest of the project themselves, so have been busy “collecting various tins and plastic containers from all sorts of places and people” with which to make their caches.

And while the 80 stories found inside them will come from Derbyshire, they hope to place those hides further afield.

Before then, the pair have plenty of work to do – including deciding how they will display those anecdotes and even what sort of “GPS gizmos” they will use – but say they “hope to begin soon”.

It’s Not About The Numbers wishes them well; it sounds like it will be an interesting ride.

* You can follow the two Sallys’ progress at their 2Sally4th blog.

2 comments

  1. Sarah

    looks like an interesting project, I like it when art and caching collide

  2. kjwx

    UPDATE: The two Sallys were featured in the Ripley & Heanor News last week. Check out the article’s interesting take on geocaching here.

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