Another week another train journey to help get my teeth stuck into some uni work.

At the beginning of this week I visited the tourist information centre where I live to see what maps they had available for free and to buy.
For context I live in St Davids, it’s the smallest city in the UK with a population of just over 1,600.
It’s a very popular tourist destination with people flocking to see the cathedral and the stunning coastline. In the last module I touched on the issues that living in a tourist community face, huge levels on unemployment, second homes and locals being outpriced of areas they live in.

I’m really interested in this narrative but I am also very aware that I don’t just want to turn to rage, aggression and blame. I think what I want to do is observe and mark this period of time more symbolically.
Potentially creating things that help divert or disperse the flow of people, helping to spread the wealth around.

The maps available at the tourist information centre show routes to and from focal points of st davids such as the cathedral, St Nons chapel and the holy well. These are things that people come to this historic city to see and it is exactly would SHOULD be in a tourist information centre.
I’m intrigued though by the path less trodden… or diverting people’s attention.

Looking at the work of Richard Long.
When looking at the above images it feels strikingly obvious that we as humans like to follow a path.
If I was to walk through the field pictured top left I would most probably follow the line marked by Richard as he walked back and forth in the field.
Like the work of Jack Whitefield I was looking at last week these pieces are really performative without you seeing the performance and I like that. I like the idea that you could view this by accidentally stumbling across it and wonder what made this line? There’s also something so weirdly calming about his work. I think you can almost see the slow speed in which this was created through the image and it seeps out calming vibes.

Back to maps

Anyway, while I waited and worked at the Library I noticed that the gallery space was currently showing maps from the National Library of Wales… AMAZING.
It was serendipity… 
In the exhibition were maps including this one which shows one of the first depictions of what we now know as Wales. This depiction was by Greco-Egyptian geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus. This map was printed in 1486. 

What I found really striking was how in these early maps we see the shape of Wales and Pembrokeshire (where I live) change and transform slowly into the shape we now know to be true.
The above map is way off, but when I look at some of the old ones it is incredible to see the accuracy that was achieved without the use of arial footage!! 

“Maps are about much more than getting from A to B they help us visualise our place in the world., the shape of our nations and the history that made them. The choices made by map makers about what to include or exclude reflect and influence the values of the society they live in”

The National Library of Wales

I really loved that sentence that the choices map makers make can reflect and influence the values of the society they live in.
It’s made me think a little more about what it is I actually want to communicate it is really key to nailing this brief actually.
This map was a super interesting depiction of the road from St Davids to London by John Ogilby in 1675. Ogilby was described as a ‘poet, dancing master, translator, royal cosmographer and official surveyor to the City of London’.

Roads had only recently become a feature on maps when this one was produced. Ogilby produced a whole atlas of maps just like this one showing routes from London to other towns without showing the landscape around the route. I like the starkness of this method of map making, the fact you have no context of what else is around you is quite interesting and perhaps could be something I look into re-creating.
A modern day version perhaps?

Scribbles and thoughts while in work

Diverting the flow…

A very site specific issue.
As a coaster guide we would walk clients down the rocky shore line and into the water at a place called St Nons.
Along the route that is used by upto 100 people per day there are areas of the cliff void of barnacles…
The path most trodden has created a scar in the natural landscape.
It’s something we as humans do all of the time, when we think about roads, paths, houses, tramlines etc etc they’re so massive and well established you don’t really think of it as something that leaves a ‘scar’ … however 

There is a little more written about human visitor impacts on the National Park website:

I don’t think it is an issue that is problematic enough to steer my project… The world has much more important issues to address right now


A map which diverts the most trodden path of visitors at a tourist destination.

I made a mood board which better reflects my thinking for this project so far.
I am set on the idea that my map is about diverting the normal flow.
During my research I came across the Strava heat map project. When thinking about diverting the normal flow this heatmap is quite interesting to look at.

This data is obviously very specific to people who are wanting to record a physical activity, however it does paint another image of the path most trodden in the area that I live in. Including in the sea which I found pretty interesting!

Image capture of Strava Global heatmap – St Davids
Image capture of Strava Global heatmap – St Davids
Image capture of Strava Global heatmap – Whitesands Beach, St Davids.
Image capture of Strava Global heatmap – Newgale

In my scribbled notes the other day I has thought about the possibility of drawing with a spirograph onto a map and trying to follow the route it creates.
There are quite a lot of opportunities that could arise from this map.
You could hack it and get enough people to walk / run the same geometric shape so that you create images onto the heatmap.
What this heatmap has shown me though is physical activity hotspots.
I still want to divert people onto the path less trodden…
I could perhaps use this as a point of reference??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *