I have started working on a project around the idea of routes and maps. The work is in the purely experimental stages and I may well abandon it altogether if the project chooses to take its own direction. It may coincide with the work of a newly-formed group I am part of here in Warwickshire (which will give it legs I am sure) or I might work it in parallel.
I began with a plant of beautiful patterns and textures which has always struck me with its tracery of veins and stems, the rhubarb. Examined closely the leaves can be seen in all their delicate intricacy, a web where one line or route moves on to many others in enormous variety and complexity. Paper maps reveal much about the inter-relationship of elements of a landscape which are unseen and unseeable where we stand. Likewise, a rhubarb plant, so easy to dismiss or ignore, shows a fascinating web of elements – lines, curves, rises and hollows – inviting one to travel through them on an imaginary journey. Webs have an innate beauty and for me are the perfect example of a whole being so much greater than the sum of its parts. Maps and leaves feel very akin in their construction and appearance and both give me an exhilarating sense possibility and wonder when examined closely.
I am not physically strong enough at the moment to undertake my planned Summer walk to the sea but funnily enough this very intense looking feels almost as exciting as the scrutinising of maps and relating them to the wider landscape that takes place on an actual walk. I have always thought that the sense of possibility is what makes travel so alluring and, in fact, I am finding that the enthusiasm to discover and open up wells up almost as strongly in this type of mental movement without any physical displacement as it does when setting out with boots and backpack.