For the love of maps - map commissions

My intrigue and inspiration from maps has intensified this year. When i am in my shed creating my maps - particularly the prints, I go into a world of exploration. Looking at the patterns and connections in the land that I couldn’t have appreciated while on the ground. I feel like I am starting to understand a place in a different way. This is quite a personal process, so it is hard to know how others will respond.

That makes it all the more inspiring to know that others are finding something to inspire them in the maps too. Its been the print maps that have been most successful - there is something about them that seems to appeal to people. Perhaps it is the simplicity, or the aesthetic of black lines and gold, or the representation of a place and an experience in a different way, or that I love doing them and that comes through!

This has been particularly pertinent in my commissions work. A number of people have asked me for maps that are meaningful to them. I take the area that they are interested in and explore the maps. In my own work I do maps of places that are meaningful to me. So it is really inspiring to hear people’s stories and create their maps. I also get to learn details of coastlines and regions that are less familiar.

The maps are drypoint etches where you make marks on a special board, apply ink and put it through a press.  These are black or indigo.  I then use metallic paint to highlight the places or journeys that people want to focus on.  These might be birth places, places where people have met or an amazing journey or experience.

The map shown here is a map of the Slovenian/ Croatian/ Bosnian coastline. It was commissioned for a wedding anniversary.  The gold marks represent the places where the couple were born - one in Slovenia and one in Bosnia and there is a gold line that connects the two cities. It is a drypoint etching in indigo (dark blue) ink on somerset paper (27 x 33cm). I loved exploring the number of islands along the Croatian coast as I did it and the distances that the couple had conducted their early romance over. It’s also wonderful to hear what a unique gift it is and see it being enjoyed on people’s walls.

So 2018 was definitely the year of the map and I think that 2019 will be too. I am in the process of doing some new work that pulls together all the maps I have done of the Alaskan wildernesses to conclude that series. I am also doing new maps of more urban areas that are meaningful to me, and who knows where the commissions might take me.

If you have your own map that inspires you and want to find out more about my map commissions check out the brochure (under collections):

Introducing 'Mapping the Change'

In my day to day work I design big change projects aimed at getting us to a more sustainable future.  For my next art project ‘mapping the change’ I am exploring the patterns and relationships needed to achieve social change which I hope will improve my understanding of how change happens, communicate challenges in new ways through art and inspire a great collection of paintings and prints.  

So I am currently bringing together a collection of successful social change projects - some that I have worked on personally, but most from a wider network.  I am looking for projects that are anchored in a place and are focused on addressing a particular social challenge.  I want to cover a range of different issues - from urban regeneration to drug addiction, from climate change to food and nutrition - all taking us towards a future where all humans flourish and we live within environmental limits.  At the moment I want the projects to be global in reach, but this may change as I understand more about what’s practical and what boundaries I need to set.  

I am particularly interested in understanding more about five key areas that my experience suggests are critical for big change: the networks, power and relationships needed to facilitate change and how people experience them; how a combination of activities can add up to create new actions and patterns; the level of impact that is being achieved and how we understand that visually; how ‘place’ can offer appropriate boundaries for successful social change projects and what that tells us about the size, structure and location of future projects; and what enabling conditions are needed to accelerate change - including the role of technology in all of these activities.  

I'm currently testing the idea.  I'm getting a long list of amazing social change projects together.  At the same time I am going to focus on one or two change programmes to see how I can translates them into paintings and insights.  I want to meet the people involved, work with them to understand the significant change that has happened and explore maps and paintings from this experience.  I hope that through painting and printing I can portray the experiences of participants in a new and different way and also learn new things.  

From there I will refine my research questions and short list the projects to explore in more depth - learning more about my key questions and access new approaches to accelerate my own work as a system change designer.  This will form the basis of my next art collection and possibly a book to share learning and hopefully beauty with change agents across the world.  

But I can’t really do this on my own.  I need help finding the best social change projects and introductions to the people involved.  I’ll need brains to help me priorities.  I’ll need feedback on whether the paintings are coming together and working...and lots more besides.  So if you have suggestions of change projects or people to talk to then please let me know - or if you want to get involved in another way.  It’s going to be quite a journey!