Phil Waterworth Researcher blog: The Flâneur Part 1

Image shows Phil Waterworth in his wheelchair in Sheffield City Centre

Phil Waterworth is a practice based PhD candidate in Fine Art, whose PhD research explores ‘disabled flânerie’. This blog post series describes the process of Phil, with his support worker, Joe, undertaking an odyssey across Sheffield city centre as part of a film project. In this first part, the journey begins as we head to the Institute of Art at the Head Post Office.


Dorothy Allen Pickard, a documentary film maker, heard about my PhD research into ‘disabled flânerie’ and wanted to make a short film for the Filmmaker Challenge 2023 at Sheffield DocFest.

Dorothy was interested in capturing how I access the city from a wheelchair perspective and engage in flânerie and psychogeography, practices that are historically speaking, ‘walking practices’. The flâneur or psychogeographer is someone who, in the words of Walter Benjamin, is ‘botanising the asphalt’.

The film shows how I use flânerie as a method to observe and explore the city streets on four wheels. A chief premise of the flâneur is to slow down and be curious of the overlooked and disregarded parts of the  urban landscape. As a wheelchair user, I am looking for what I call Islands of Solace. These are areas of terrain where the ground is smooth and flat, areas where the floor is kinder to four wheels. On these ‘islands’, I am able to experience freedom of movement.

This collage shows a strip f brown packing paper in the background. Ovee this paper, roads cut from a map forms a crossroads. An image of a football is contrasted with an obscured image of a person in a wheelchair. The numbers 123 are drawn over the collage in stencil font. The numbers join each other to form a triangle.

123, Phil Waterworth

The Flâneur Notes on a film by Dorothy Allen-Pickard

To want nothing. Just to wait, until there is nothing left to wait for. Just to wander, and to sleep. To let yourself be carried along by the crowds, and the streets. To follow the gutters, the fences, the water’s edge. To walk the length of the embankments, to hug the walls. To waste your time. To have no projects, to feel no impatience. To be without desire, or resentment, or revolt. Georges Perec

Part One

Page 1 of a text based blog by Fine Art PhD Candidate Phil Waterworth, with a contour lines as a visual aspect. A Word version of the text without the lines is available on this page as a download.

The Flâneur – Notes on a film by Dorothy Allen-Pickard. Page 1 of 4. Words by Phil Waterworth

In this image, i am shown in my wheelchair attempting to negotiate a kerb in a carpark. I am wearing a blue camouflage jacket and a red bob cap. The words dropped kerb in absentia are written over the image in pink. They are capitalised. Phil Waterworth


>> Read Part Two
>> Skip ahead to Part Three [coming soon]

*A flâneur is a French term to describe an urban wanderer or idler and flânerie is a description of their practice.


About the artist

Phil Waterworth is a Sheffield-based artist and writer, currently working on a practice based PhD. His work questions the complex relationship of disability and urban ethnography, how Flânerie and psychogeographic practices can help us shift our perspectives and relationship to urban space.