Task 3 – Mapping the Territory

Angela has presented Task 3 and introduced us to the concept of using a ‘map’ to explore our practice.

The mapping is to be a strategy to lead into the essay, and to that end will be the supporting document for the essay, effectively where thinking is carried out.

I fully understand the wisdom of not holding everything in your head, what I am not so clear about is quite how creative we are meant to be with the task itself.

Angela raised these questions:

What is the context for me?

What does my background bring to my art?

The relevance for me?

Priorities for me?

My skills?

The essay will require quite deep research.  The map needs to support this.

This, in turn, really  needs to address the points raised by Caroline for the Personal Practice Plan (PPP):

Networks outside of the MA

Articulating my practice.

Where am I contextually in the wider art world?

Testing my boundaries.

In my usual, logical, way I am approaching this task in a practical manner, start with the main areas and work out.  At least this way I will have highlighted all I think I know at this point in time, and I will clearly see the areas that need to be addressed.  What will not be so clear is what is left out, so I need to be alert to that.

Funny, coming from a systems design background, I can see the bigger picture, how the map, the PPP, the essay will all meld together.  I can see how we are being gently led to water, and how supported we are in the task.  Unfortunately, what I am failing to see is exactly what question is at the core of all this work.  If there had been a major factor or incident that had driven my life, say my parents had survived the holocaust, or I had survived ill health, or abuse as a child, or had a particular connection to another culture, there would be a narrative to my work.   But I have had an ordinary life, only tinged with great sadness and I am not sure that that is an appropriate narrative, or a comfortable place to dwell.


Having looked at the options for the format of the map, suggested by Angela, I am viewing this as a working document at this stage, rather than a work of art.  With a mind map I have the detail and the bigger picture, but the question remains, what is going to drive my work forward?

Today I followed the ‘other resources route’ that Angela reminded us to look at.  I have compiled a book list to support me in my quest for an answer, focusing on painting, the prospect of a different discipline being more than my head can cope with at the moment.

Weintraub – Making Contemporary Art: How Today’s Artists Think   & Work

New Perspectives in Painting – 2011 Vitamin P2

Schwabsky (2002) – New Perspectives in Painting

Gant B & Lopes D (2007) – The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics   2nd edition

Downs (2007) – Drawing Now- Between the Lines of Contemporary   Art

Clement Greenberg – Modernist Painting

Having thought quite deeply about this point, I don’t believe  that changing medium at this juncture will aid my thought process.  I could be wrong, and I am keeping an open mind, but for me it makes more sense to take small steps into the future, and see what happens, rather than taking an unstructured huge step sideways.  To focus on experimentation with surface, which is resonating with me.


Here I am working into an existing canvas print with emulsion.


Watercolour paper of a slightly lighter weight than I would normally use has been pasted to the canvas, with most other areas masked with tissue paper.  At this stage I have no idea what I will paint, but the palette will be defined by the unmasked image.

The aim of my experiment is to see whether this approach will work for me with a view to scaling up my work.  My first experiments with watercolour on canvas lacked the vibrancy of paper.  I am hoping that the addition of watercolour paper will create a new dynamic.  The end result will be the ability to produce significantly larger works, that will be sealed, as with all other mediums on canvas, but not glazed, because glazed work much larger than my current of 100 x 80 cms becomes unwieldy and dangerous, not to mention very easily damaged by the handlers at major exhibitions.

‘Other resources’ includes critique and processes of current and former OCA students.  I was particularly drawn to Emma Drye’s critique of Jereme Crow’s work.  A series of paintings of a single lemon in a small glass dish.  A challenging and brave choice of subject.  http://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/student-work-uncovered-jereme-crow

Emma’s reference to narrative imagery and symbolism, the subtle embedded interest in process.  The qualities of light, gesture, composition, scale, colour.  Imagery to symbolise the narrative, how are you going to deliver as an artist?

How indeed.

Thoughts on Narrative

This led me to think about my current environment with regard to subject and risk.  Hastings is steeped in history, but what defines it in modern times is its relative poverty.

I looked at the government stats.  On first pass I found this table (which I couldn’t get to copy more meaningfully).  I don’t profess to understand the figures or what a  Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) actually is, that isn’t my point here.  I am just using this table to evidence the definition of Hastings, relative to the rest of the country.  The only borough in the South to be included.

Click to access 1871208.pdf

The English Indices of Deprivation 2010 use 38 separate indicators, organised across seven distinct domains1 of deprivation which can be combined, using appropriate weights, to calculate the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 (IMD 2010). This is an overall measure of multiple deprivation experienced by people living in an area and is calculated for every Lower layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in England. The IMD 2010 can be used to rank every LSOA in England
according to their relative level of deprivation.’

Deprivation at a Local Level Local authority measures can provide useful summaries of deprivation in local areas. One measure that can be used is the proportion of LSOAs in a local authority amongst the 10 per cent most deprived in England. Table 4 shows the 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of LSOAs in the most deprived decile of the IMD 2010 and the change since 2007.
Table 4: The 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of their LSOAs in the most deprived decile of IMD 2010 and change since 2007 IMD 2010 Change from 2007

Number of LSOAs amongst 10% most deprived

Proportion of LSOAs in the district that are amongst the
most deprived

Number of LSOAs

Percentage Change

Liverpool 148 51% -14 -9%
Middlesbrough 41 47% 0 0%
Manchester 118 46% -17 -13%
Knowsley 45 45% -2 -4%
Kingston upon Hull 70 43% -2 -3%
Hackney 57 42% -19 -25%
Tower Hamlets 52 40% -20 -28%
Birmingham 251 39% -3 -1%
Blackpool 35 37% 5 17%
Hartlepool 21 36% 1 5%
Blackburn with Darwen 31 34% -2 -6%
Burnley 20 33% 6 43%
Salford 47 33% -4 -8%
Newham 50 31% -3 -6%
Stoke-on-Trent 50 31% -3 -6%
Bradford 94 31% 4 4%
Sandwell 57 30% 2 4%
Pendle 17 30% 1 6%
Haringey 42 29% 3 8%
Hastings 15 28% 1 7%

But where there is poverty there is also scope for improvement, and the regeneration is tangible.  The arrival of the Jerwood, the rebuilding of the Pier, the grot busting scheme to restore properties and the dignity of tenants.  Following Angela’s theme of metaphor, the words that spring to mind are:  Community Spirit, Intelligence, Creativity, Determination.  On reflection, it also encompasses my family, and in particular my daughter, who is currently spearheading the regeneration of the White Rock area, close to the pier.


Hastings is however different to many poor areas, for a start we are in the affluent South, with relative but not commutable distance to London.  In Victorian times the area, particularly St Leonards, was very wealthy.

When London boroughs started to use the coastal towns as housing overflow, together with the associated drink and drug abuse, a practice that continues to this day in Worthing and Littlehampton, the character of the area changed.

Hastings has not suffered from industrialisation or the loss of it.  In fact its main historical industry was, and is, its beach fishing fleet at the Stade, also home to the Jerwood.

030 Top left is the Jerwood.

Fishing holds no interest for me, but as a symbol or metaphor, it does.  I need to live by the sea.  I am piscean.  Words I associate with fishermen, Brave, Fearless, Determined, Family, Caring, Community, Character, Tradition, Hard Working, Provider, Skill.  There is also a religious, which for me is a spiritual connection, at one with our planet.

Just a thought.

The other essence of Hastings is its people.  Many have lived here all their lives, and the new arrivals (Over from Brighton OFBs, us, and Down From London DFLs) rarely leave.  There is a long held secret about the place, a friendliness that really opens up once you commit to putting down roots.  With such a community come the festivals, Jack in the Green, Fireworks, Mackerel, Story Telling, Carnival, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), and events, Riotous Decadence New Year.035 Jack in the Green
Colourful, Spirited, Pagan, Anti Establishment, Survivor, Fun, Authentic.
Not sure what is happening here but this journal is acting very much like my painting process, developing as I write.  Regeneration, Fishermen, Festivals, metaphors for what they represent to me, but also representing  those aspects of me.  I feel somehow liberated, focused, and able to give something back to the town that has made me feel so at home. 

Historical Maps

Satirical political maps.

Britannia by James Gillray, 1791

‘Britannia’ Etching by James Gillray; published in London by Hannah Humphrey in 1791 Image source: British Museum

Das heutige Europa, 1875

‘Das heutige Europa’ (Today’s Europe)Published in Zurich by Caesar Schmidt in 1875 Image source: University of Amsterdam


Diagrams and statistics

Marcus du Sautoy on the power of diagrams, 14 mins.


Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagram

Jan Matejko-Astronomer Copernicus-Conversation with God.jpg

Nicholas Copernicus with his Diagram that was the start of modern astronomy.

Hans Rosling on the joy of statistics, 5 mins.

An extraordinary visual representation of 120,000 statistics.

Mind Maps
Spontaneous exploration of an idea or visual means of recording key ideas as an aid to remembering. Deals with relationships and connections, nonhierchical.  Tony Buzan is probably the most well known exponent of mind
maps. Tony Buzan - About


For an educational perspective – The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them.
Novack and Canas.

A concept map showing the key features of concept maps. Concept maps tend to be read progressing from the top downward.


Other examples of visualising information and ideas
Native American Indian Winter Counts.

Australian Aboriginal Song Lines Mandalas


‘It is  almost unbelievable that people who speak a multitude of different languages can be connected by these invisible lines that mean the same thing to each one of them.’

Aboriginal Dreamtime Diagram


‘The Australian Aborigines speak of jiva or guruwari, a seed power deposited in the earth. In the Aboriginal world view, every meaningful activity, event, or life process that occurs at a particular place leaves behind a vibrational residue in the earth, as plants leave an image of themselves as seeds. The shape of the land – its mountains, rocks, riverbeds, and water holes – and its unseen vibrations echo the events that brought that place into creation. Everything in the natural world is a symbolic footprint of the metaphysical beings whose actions created our world. As with a seed, the potency of an earthly location is wedded to the memory of its origin.

The Aborigines called this potency the “Dreaming” of a place, and this Dreaming constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in extraordinary states of consciousness can one be aware of, or attuned to, the inner dreaming of the Earth.’

Tibetan  Mandalas

Painted 17th century Tibetan ‘Five Deity Mandala’, in the center is Rakta Yamari (the Red Enemy of Death) embracing his consort Vajra Vetali, in the corners are the Red, Green White and Yellow Yamaris, Rubin Museum of Art


‘Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T.’

12th century Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen (Saint) circa 1098? – mandela of the four seasons.

Stephen Jones Milliner

The trilbies are from Stephen Jones' autumn/winter 2014 collection.

Materials and sketches in the workroom.

The netting caught my eye.


Mapping the Territory – script for the Pecha Kucha

1      .           No idea how to approach or what I was trying to achieve             .           Decided to trust Angela’s process

2          .           How best to achieve the task?

.           Decided to work in stages

.           Brain dumped everything into a mindmap

3          .           Reflection – unexpectedly the largest area

.           The more I thought the larger it grew

.           If this was happening in the short time of creation, there was a problem

4          .           Research – As my ideas take shape this is also going to grow

.           The process of thinking and collating created immersion in the task

5          .           Other Artists – I have only listed key artists relative to my current thoughts

.           I record the work of every artist I encounter, 139 to date, on Pinterest, an amazing resource

6          .           Practice – I expect this area to grow as I work thru the MA

.           Visual Language

7          .           Inspiration

.           Interests

.           It became apparent that mindmapping would be too restrictive going forward

8          .           I needed to consider

How to drive my practice/practicality/maintenance/visibility/space

9          .           I played with ideas of presentation to condense the space required to hold the information but  .            allow for expandability

.           A fan format concealed too much, the lotus flower was ok but not aesthetically pleasing

10        .           I looked at creating a flower shape and writing on artificial flowers, but visibility of info was still .            a problem

11        .           I had been on a millinery course and loved the idea of creating a hat with the map on the  .            sculptural shapes, but the practicality got in the way

12        .           A walk to the beach to collect some pebbles for another option, was my breakthrough moment

13        .           Foam board with page markers

.           I have everything in one 60cm image, with room for growth

.           This achieved, I found space to think about some of the issues it raised

14        .           Symbolism – what did it mean for me

.           The MoMA Art Terms  led me to Gauguin – Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

.           An early example of an emotional response in contemporary work

15        .           Motif – I didn’t understand how this applied to my work

.           Yves millet article for Contemporary Aesthetics –

.           Monet’s motif over form, flowers the pretext for colour and rhythmic display

.           Pollack, motif as a vehicle of energy

16        .           So I began to look for symbols

.           Hastings has had a beach fishing fleet for over 1000 years

.           Brave, fearless, determined, family, caring, community

17        .           Regeneration – Hastings is the 18th poorest borough in the country, the only one to feature

.           from the South (more info in my Journal)

.           Community spirit, intelligence, creativity, determination

18        .           Festivals – Hastings has a very long tradition, Jack in the Green, Fireworks, Mackerel, Carnival,             Story Telling, Fat Tuesday

.           Colourful, spirited, pagan, anti-establishment, survivor, fun, authentic

19        .           The other question the map prompted was direction, scale up or delve deeper into materials

.           Nihonga, Japanese painting is water based but the paints are crushed from minerals, coral, .            malachite, azurite

20        .           Exploratory project to be used to investigate scale, but I suspect I will return to Nihonga at .            some point


Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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