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  • Writer's pictureKate Moores

Mapping ourselves!

What do maps mean to you and how can they be used in creative, expressive ways?

Each month, in my facebook group Creative Hands Tribe, I run a small challenge to stretch and explore our inspiration and artistic skills. This month sees our first Art Maps challenge, where we will look at what makes a map, how they can be used for a very wide variety of things. We will play about with drawing, painting and/or collaging with a printed map and then go on to making our own map to represent or express anything we choose!

I LOVE a good map, especially an old one, and can pour over these for hours! Indeed I have decorated my stairwell with maps in place of wallpaper. It is no surprise, I did study Human Geography at university after all! Printed maps, marked by their folds, hold a vast area, but tuck into your pocket. From studying the contours, symbols, names and features you can see something of the social geography of a place, it's history, how a town grew from a small village, find roman roads and ancient sites. (It's really no the same with Google Maps!) Maps also tell you a little about the maker, the purpose. Maps have been used for political gain and propaganda even.

And we don't just map the land, but the seas and skies too.

I once made a Constellation of the Heart for a lover...a map of their constellations and the key that whispered messages of love.

I made a map as a wedding gift, in the shape of an Ampersand with mountains, lakes and settlements telling the story of the couple, their meeting, growing together and hopes for the future. Maps can be anything that you want them to be. We add a key of symbols to leave clues to it's meaning. We can make them a beautiful flow of lines like the London Underground map, or decorate with compasses and decorative cartouches. I love that the word Cartography (the study and practice of making and using maps) contains the word ART...very telling to me.

Yes, maps are a thing of beauty, they help us find our way, keep us from getting lost, find food and shelter, or the way off the M25! Maps tell stories, histories/herstories, create illusions, portray political perspectives, divisions, unions and call us to explore our world, our seas, our universe.

You could map your senses, a map of smells experienced on a walk or journey, a map of food eaten, people met, conversations overheard. You could map and name the freckles on your body or the face of a loved one. Maps are like enigmatic books and films of the imagination.

What maps would you create and where would they lead?

Come join the Creative Hands Tribe and make a map with me!

KM 10/5/21

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