Almost a map Almost a word
My current project is called ‘Almost a word Almost a map’ exploring the language and representation of borders, of pain and trauma, resilience and recovery. The pandemic and funding from Creative Scotland have allowed me to slow my practice down and focus purely on research exploring the impact this has on my creative work.
The theme has developed from a number of different sources. Visually, maps and words are powerful forms of communication and narrative. They are multi-layered, conveying meaning, making sense of the world, but both are also sources of conflict, manipulation, distortion and division. As such, they connect directly to the the unsettling nature of current affairs as well as to my own personal experience. Over the last few years I had begun to explore my upbringing near Belfast during the Troubles – a time of great trauma and pain for many. After years of fragile peace, the border is a source of conflict again in relation to Brexit, which itself has fostered division and manipulation.
Researching these issues has been enlightening. I am horrified at my lack of knowledge or engagement with this history. ‘The Troubles’ is a euphemism for a ‘War Zone’ that hadn’t even occurred to me. This disconnection may have been a coping mechanisim to protect me from a buried childhood trauma.
Research has included personal experience but the scope has been far reaching:- The history of conflict in Northern Ireland; studying old rural and urban maps of Scotland and Ireland; the legacy of British Imperialism; inequality, trauma and pain; the impact of intergenerational trauma; Peace groups, the history of typefaces their designers and the impact within the world; neurological pathways; human intervention on the environment.
Although this hefty subject matter can be hard going at times, I feel that it is even more relevant and apposite during this global crisis.
I have been working with the research visually which helps clarify my thoughts and make connections. Here are some works in progress.