Monday, 4 January 2016

The future of maps...

Knowing how much I love maps, a friend forwarded me a link to this article by Suzanne Wilson, which talks about the future of mapping in a digital age and particularly how Bristol city council have used digital technology to create 'Know Your Place'.

'Know Your Place'  layers contemporary over historic maps so that the viewer can easily study the changes to Bristol city between the two time periods.  Not only that, a toolbar on the screen allows the viewer to layer further information over the top, including the location of historic cinemas, or listed buildings, for example.  For me, the most exciting feature is to be able to pinpoint places on the map corresponding to archive photographs of that precise area.    You may not see me for a couple of weeks while I play with this...!

In most of my public art projects, one of my first areas of research is to study local archives, often looking at historic maps of the area, looking for clues to distincitve local stories, which may form the basis for the artwork.

For Broomhill lane in Denbigh, I scoured the historic tithe and OS maps at Denbighshire Archives for visual motifs, patterns and lines which I could collect, like a database of map symbols.  I then used these symbols to create new compositions to tell seven individual stories about Denbigh, including local Author Kate Roberts and the significant Welsh press; Gwasg Gee which was located in the town centre.

Maps were also a starting point for a vitreous enamel public artwork I made in 2014 for Wardour street in London.  Like the 'Know Your Place' application, only on paper, I layered hundreds of years of maps of Soho over eachother as a starting point for the design process.

For 'Buy Black Country', I was commissioned by Wolverhampton Arts & Museum service to create a limited edition series of pieces for their museum shops.  Here, I created layered metal etchings of historic Black Country maps which showed the most wonderful symbols and patterns denoting the hundreds of industrial sites accross the area.  I cut circles of the etchings out and inlaid them in enamel hemispheres to create 90 magnetic brooches.

I can't wait for the next opportunity to be inspired by maps!

Here's a link to 'Know Your Place'

and to Suzanne's article 

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Rebecca Gouldson