I’ve been trying to concentrate on doing rather than thinking, so it has been a while since I’ve updated on progress. This will be a summary in two parts, reflecting the two areas of focus I am working with. This first post looks at the key point of feedback from my Unit 1 Assessment: “be more materially-led”. I started back in November looking at the idea of a map as material and seeing where it would take me.
In this post I started some ‘material sketches’, in particular a traditional-style patchwork piece which brought together significant places I cut out of an old map of where I grew up (Northumbria/South Scotland). I had written the story of why those places meant so much to me on each hexagon.
From here I had commented on the signigfance of the stitching at the time, but on reflection was more fascinated by the bit of the map that was left behind after cutting. I said in my next map post that “There was something sad, sorrowful about the remnants. The leftover places which were devoided of all meaning through my act of cutting”.
This took me to look more at the act of cutting to see what could be revealed though absence and incompleteness. This was quite fun actually, the process was relatively random – with no plan or meaning attached to how each map page was cut, simply an act of repetition going on through the A to Z. I moved away from the hexagon (a very quilting related shape) and moved to the more abstract circles.
After this I had a bit of a break for Christmas and on getting back to my desk this week wasn’t really sure how to move on next. I started by playing with the pieces which had been cut out of the London AtoZ – using stitching and then folding.
I then took a step back and went back to the idea of cutting a whole map, but this time being more selective on what to extract. I have acquired a absolutely fabulous set of old OS maps which I am using as source material. In this set I found a map of the place where I grew up on Tyneside. Having spent a lifetime with so much of my identity resonating with rivers, seas and waters (in no small part down to my fish-crazed dad), I was instantly drawn to the representation of the river, the shard of bright blue signing out amongst the city.
I really liked these samples, there is something compelling about how the map looks once its lifeblood (and the reason the city existed in the beginning) was ripped away from the people and places around it. I thought to repeat this process on a bigger map and a different place, thinking more about the idea of deconstruction of place into constituent parts. I came across a map of my adopted home, so took that one, seeing what the material nature of the map would tell me about cutting or not cutting. This is what resulted:
(in case you aren’t sure of the scale, fully laid out it’s about 1m x 1m)
I am quite pleased with this so far, and it is beginning to be more clearly influenced by the bigger context of my project (more on this in my next post). Now the question is where to go next from these samples?