I mentioned in my last post, that the map of the University of Warwick campus for the Mead Gallery’s ‘Follow that Hare’ project, an arts and nature trail created in 2018, had been re-released as a second edition with additional and newly acquired sculptures. Well, this week another project has been launched for the Gallery, this time focussing on arts and history titled ‘Walking Through Time’. The project consists of two trails – The Highwayrobber Trail and The Dinosaur Trail – guiding walkers to a series of sculptures and sites of historical interest in the campus grounds.
I researched antique maps for this series: their cartouche, compass rose and neatline styles. Like those maps, these were entirely handpainted in watercolour for a more traditional look.
The Highwayrobber Trail map has a focus on the Gibbet Hill Road (the old Kenilworth Road) which historically crawled with footpads and thieves. Famously three notorious highwaymen were caught there in 1765 and hung on Gibbet Hill in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Their bodies, tarred blackly, were left to dangle for another 40 years as a gruesome warning to others. Other features on the map show the sites of iron age forts, medieval farming and pottery production. Discover more sculpture in the woods including the wordy ‘Our Shadows Alone Touched You Trying To Find Where Here is’ by John Newling or the twisty woven ‘Don’t Let Go’ by Laura Ellen Bacon creeping around the tree trunks.
The Dinosaur Trail map focusses on Jake and Dinos Chapman’s work ‘The Good, The Bad’. Two dinosaurs roughly cut in rust-red metal and based on old-school kids’ toys loom over the fields; one slowly munching through the green, the other, dead behind the eyes and surely about to attack. Other features of this map include the sites of a medieval windmill and a 12th century Cistercian monastery alongside more contemporary sculpture by the likes of Richard Deacon and Lotte Theunker.
‘Walking through Time’ can be picked up as print from the gallery or downloaded from the gallery website – all for free. As in the previous project, some field journals for children are in production with historical and arty things to do.
I really enjoyed creating this series of maps, especially because I’d worked entirely by hand. Although I draw everything out on paper, sometimes my clients ask for work to be coloured digitally or part digitally rather than in paint. I much prefer to stay away from the screen and get my hands properly dirty – perhaps better trying to connect with those historical mapmakers whose works show so much personality through their sensitive mark making and use of colour.
These maps were a perfect project for me on another level too. I believe understanding our history of living in a landscape, recognising that human/non-human interaction had to be symbiotic for survival in the past – can show us the way to care for our home as part of a natural environment in the present too…