No map is ever a direct copy of the land; they are interpretations, a language, a form of representation. Conventional maps are intended to explain the geography or geology of a place, to communicate population density or average rainfall. They are used to navigate, to point the way. Artist's maps on the other hand expand the cartographer’s compressed language, embodying emotions, memories, experiences, histories, scientific research, personal politics and even the imaginary.
Mapping in an Ever Moving Now started life with the idea of the artist as an alternative cartographer, the multiplicities of maps, and our movement through time, seasons and place. I wanted to create collections or chapters of work that express and “map” journeys through specific areas. How to do this I was unsure. I started to make new work, exploring ideas as they occurred to me, discovering what worked and what didn’t. In the process I made a few pieces I am incredibly proud of, pieces that sit on the periphery of Mapping, inspired by but not a part of the project. Some of these, like You Are Here and 50.5803° N, 3.7551° W can be found on this website. Despite these pieces of work I was still struggling with the project a whole.
It was watching a fantastic series by the BBC about researchers on the Galápagos Islands that made me realise why I was struggling. I wanted the project to be about more than my personal walks. It felt wrong, in this age, to make a body of work about nature that didn’t address some of the issues currently facing our planet. The realisation was an important one but it didn’t actually help clarify much until after moving to Devon.
South Devon had inspired the project, and so I decided to relocate from London. Moving has allowed me to focus on the project, give the work and myself a chance to develop artistically. Following the move I started a yearlong artists’ residency with the Marine Institute at Plymouth University. The start of the year involved a lot of incredible conversations with different researchers at the institute, discovering a little of what they are working on, seeing where my project might draw the most inspiration, and in turn be of the most use. It has also led to meeting some of the people running the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South West Coast Path for further fascinating conversations and support. It was during one of these conversations that I first heard the term shifting baselines and the word Rewilding. That single word, and the path it is leading me down has brought Mapping in an Ever Moving Now into focus. I do not yet know exactly what I will make, but I finally know what I am making it about. If you don’t know much (or anything) about rewilding I would advise reading this article by George Monbiot (HERE) and watching his TED talk (HERE).
The aim for Mapping is to create a multi-chaptered project that I hope will lead me around the globe exploring the ideas of rewilding and the artists map. I am still developing the visual language with which to do this but I am closer than ever. The first chapter will focus on Devon and the South West Coast Path. To develop my work, and the visual language the project will use, I will be hiking stretches of the South West Coast Path and the Coast-to-Coast walk along the Two Moors Way before returning to the studio for the winter months to create the first chapter of this exciting project.
I will be addressing personal experiences, memories and sensations, and how these connect to the idea of rewilding. I will be taking photographs, writing notes, researching and collecting things as I walk. You can follow along my journey of discovery on my blog, as I will be writing about that and more over the coming months. You can also explore some of the pieces of work I have already made for this chapter, pieces of work that are helping to drive this project forward.
This project is being created with the generous support of a number of people and companies, from the Marine Institute and beyond. I would like to use this space to thank them for their support...
The Marine Institute for welcome an artist through their doors and taking the time to speak with me and explain a fraction of their incredible work.
Ellie Baker for giving me the space, time, love and support needed to start working on a project of this magnitude. And for sharing her studio with me!
Paul and Anne Marie for giving me the space in London to conceive of and start the work for this project.
Michael Squire for his generous support of Akin
The Bantham estate for allowing me to work on the beach when creating Akin
Arvon Centre for awarding me the Arvon Writing Grant to attend the Nature Writing course
Millican bags for sponsoring the project and making the most wonderful backpack I have ever owned!