We are looking for contacts, local community groups, interested individuals, routes into funding, places to exhibit, support, volunteers, publicity and people to network with in order to develop our projects.
Please contact us by emailing milesanddacombe@virginmedia.com.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Maps of the spiritual mind

I visited the Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library.
The exhibition exhibits the power and propaganda that maps have exercised since around the 1500s.  However, the medieval maps interested me most.
They give us a way in to the medieval mind.  Their maps merge seamlessly the geographical world, of which their knowledge is limited, and the spiritual world.  Anything beyond their physical knowledge they populate with mythical beasts and imagery of fear and desire.  I am reminded of the saying about Gods:  before Man climbed the mountains he thought the Gods lived on the mountains;  once Man had climbed the mountains, he believed that the Gods lived in the clouds;  once Man had flown above the clouds, he believed that the Gods must live beyond the earth's atmosphere... now that Man has reached into Space, the Gods exist in another dimension from ours...
The medieval mind does not see a distinction between the spiritual and the geographical located.  Their maps are spiritual maps, maps of belief.  Their maps attempt to record the history of the world (their world, as they see it) by locating things within it:  the centre of the map is Jerusalem, so the whole world revolves around a religious and spiritual core.  The world is mapped out as if it is made up of the body of Christ, his head appearing at the top, his hands outstretched at the left and right extremities of the map, as if crucified, his feet at the bottom.  It reminds me of the old Norse legends, how the mountains and forests are actually the muscles and hair of a giant, which gives you a strong feeling of the Earth as a living organism beneath our feet.  The medieval maps suggest that the world is the embodiment of their spiritual beliefs and as we walk upon it and move from one location to the next we are exploring and making contact with those beliefs.
It makes me think of the power of the journey of a pilgrim to a holy place.  How these maps could have influenced the idea of a journey of devotion.  How inextricably linked physical journeys are to the journeys that are our lives.

Click this link to see details of one of the medieval maps at the British Library: Psalter World Map, c.1265

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Dictionary Definitions / Flexible Visualisations

Walking in the garden this morning a series of words were tumbling through my brain. I wrote a list and at first glance they seemed quite dry, so I decided to look at their dictionary definitions, editing out the ones that didn't seem to apply to our proposed project. In the arts and in business a word like networking is bandied about quite freely, we take it for granted that we know what this means but the first definition "a pattern or system that looks like a series of branching or interconnecting lines" threw up a host of new possibilities creating both a visual and poetic impression.

Photograph by Andrew Rushton

net·work n

1. a pattern or system that looks like a series of branching or interconnecting lines

2. a large and widely distributed group of people or things such as shops, colleges, or churches, that communicate with one another and work together as a unit or system

3. net or netting

4. vi to build up or maintain informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities

sta·tion n

1. a place along a train or bus route where passengers are picked up or set down, often with amenities such as ticket offices, waiting rooms, refreshments, toilets, and facilities for goods and parcels

2. the place or position where somebody or something is usually to be found or is supposed to be found

3. a position where somebody performs a task, for example, in a factory, or the equipment used in performing a task

4. a fixed point used by surveyors as a reference

des·ti·na·tion n

1. the place to which somebody or something is going or must go

2. a purpose for which somebody or something is intended

trav·el v

1. vi to go on a journey to a particular place, usually using some form of transportation

6. vi to move swiftly (informal)

9. vi to be transmitted or communicated

10. vi to scan an object or scene in the process of observing or filming it

11. vi to move in a fixed path while operating (refers to a machine part)

12. vi to associate with a particular person or group

plat·form n

1. a raised level area of flooring for speakers, performers, or participants in a ceremony, making them easily visible to the audience

2. a position of authority or prominence that provides a good opportunity for doing something

3. a computer operating system, often along with the associated equipment

a·light1 vi

1. to step down from a vehicle onto the ground or a platform

2. to happen to find, spot, or come to rest on something


ex·plo·ra·tion n

1. traveling to discover what a place is like or where it is

2. an investigation or the study of something such as data, or the consideration and testing of something such as possible courses of action

ex·hib·it v

1. vti to display something, especially a work of art, in a public place such as a museum or gallery (shop / station platform, waiting room)

2. vt to show something off for others to look at or admire

3. vt to show the outward signs of something, especially an emotion or a physical or mental condition

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


In March 2009, as part of the Fingerprints project, Carole and I generated a lot of writing about some of the ideas, themes and thoughts that we had had over the course of the three year project.  These writings turned into collages, pasting together map imagery, lines and shapes from our screenprints.  The collages represented interweavings of the project's imagery and the thoughts we had generated throughout.
Looking back you can see the development of ongoing ideas from our first project now resonating in this new project, Undiscovered Networks.  This is one of the collages we made in 2009:

Each of the places on our undiscovered network could be seen as a nexus, a connection but also a point of focus.
By linking the places together, do we create a new community?
Will we be able to create "soft ties" between Corby and our chosen 12 places?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Galleria delle Carte Geografiche

Thinking about maps in relation to power and politics reminds me of a visit to the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche in the Vatican otherwise know as the Hall of Maps. The gallery includes a series of frescoed maps of Italy and it's regions from drawings by the geographer Ignazio Danti . The maps were commissioned by Pope Julius XIII between 1580 and 1583, with later additions by Lukas Holste in 1631.
By commissioning the maps Pope Gregory XIII was attempting to revive the notion of Italy as a political unit at a time when it had devolved into many small states. The gallery of maps was inspired by descriptions of a great map of Italia said to have existed in the meeting hall at the temple of Tellus which was a meeting place for the Roman Senate on several occasions.
The frescos deliberately paired maps of "ancient Italy" with "new (modern) Italy" in an attempt to reinforce the papacy's claim to the inheritance of Roman imperial territory. The frescos are breathtaking in their scale and colour, as you walk through the hall, you are almost wrapped and surrounded by them, they are an exercise in power and control, they make connections and persuasively advocate the papacy's chosen viewpoint. It is quite some years since that visit and yet the impression made upon me remains vivid, the lands described have a visceral presence.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Magnificent Maps... heralding change?

I've been reading the British Library's curator's blog for the Magnificent Maps exhibition.  There is a comment about maps not often heralding change, they usually reflect change (29 May 2010).  But I think they can have a very important role in changing our perceptions of things, in the selection of networks that the map maker chooses to make visible. The way we connect things in our minds (which maps make visible) can profoundly change the way we view them and then respond, or behave. They are so powerful. The whole idea of this exhibition is fascinating, the maps reflect but perhaps played a role in the changing relationships of power and politics over the centuries.

It is a bit like language.  The language we choose to use for things can profoundly change the way we view them.  By carefully selecting the language you use to describe something, you can subtley change the way people understand you.  So with maps and networks.  What you choose to link or show, the relationships your map chooses to reveal (or leave out!) will change the nature of how you view those elements, the importance you might give one over the other and so on.

Magnificent Maps:  Power, Propoganda and Art
"Maps can be works of art, propaganda pieces, expressions of local pride, and tools of indoctrination... Magnificent Maps brings together some of the most impressive wall maps ever created, many of which have never been exhibited before, and will demonstrate why maps are about far more than simply geography."

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

What are maps?

Maps show what can't be seen.  They make visible connections, structures and overviews of how thinks link together.

But they are selective.  They only show connections from one viewpoint.  They simplify reality in order to make a coherent network.  A map only shows one version of reality.

If we were to map connections between our twelve places, how would we select what to acknowledge and what to leave out?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."

"Railway termini... are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return."

E M Forster, Howards End, 1910

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard