Guest Blog Post by Jane Pitt
Here : : There
This time last year I was in Ditchling enjoying a last long listening wander before taking down my exhibition Maunder¹ Maps which explored alternative forms of mapping. It used visual and textual ways to map and describe the sensations of walking through a landscape directed by sound, topography & the wind rather than following a ready made map. To let go of the physical maps and wander where you like physically and imaginatively.
The commission to create work to accompany the Macdonald Gill: Wonderground Man exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (DMAC) opened up a new possibility to create work that described the connection & dialogue between both the mutable outside and solid inside. Imagining this as coloured and shaped connecting threads or layers, which describe the dialogue of the building with the village, the contents with the people, the people with the environment and so on. Projections that disrupt the linear or allocentric idea of a map directing you from A to D via B or C, which instead explore the more personal experiences & sensory perceptions of the environment the Museum is situated in. To let go of the traditional maps I’d collected and make some new ones informed by lively conversations, sensory immersion in the landscape and shared walks.
Drawing sounds has been part of my practice for sometime, resulting in both installations and limited edition prints. Sound maps which explore the idea of making the invisible visible, capturing and mapping the ephemeral by creating graphic interpretations of the immediate soundscape. Translating layered, mutable, moments of sensory experience into notation; using line, shape, texture and colour. Maps that navigate an external world through the filters of personal experience.
Today, during Covid-19 Lockdown, I’m standing in my studio by the edge of the tidal River Medway in Kent, on the lower curve of the Ness where Limehouse Reach meets Chatham Reach. It has a distinctive soundscape and as today’s tide rises I can hear the pontoon start to squeak and the tap tapping of tug boat renovations. While listening outwardly to my physical location I’m remembering the curve, rise and stretch of the path as it unfurls from DMAC up to Oldland Mill. My mind is stretching out along the ridge to wide open sky; recalling the physical and visual sense that contours shift, lengthen and shorten as I move. It’s all palpably present.
I mentally switch back & forth from Maunder¹mapping to here now, attempting to place myself solidly in this moment. But in the process I’m suspended between my here now and a year of layered sensory and creative memory. My DMAC temporary large window work ‘Unmap’ gave the illusion of existing between worlds. It was designed to appear and disappear, to shift as the light & landscape viewed through it changed across the day and the seasons; sometimes appearing as dark lines then coming in to full vibrant colour as darkness fell. Like ‘Unmap’ today’s memories intersect, branch off and exist in parallel planes and neural pathways. Linear time translates into a complex mental map where my places of work during 2020: Ditchling – Sri Lanka – Medway – Glasgow; merge, entwine, loop, and meander in multiple dimensions, textures, sounds and colours. Always in motion – between here and there.
¹Maunder is an old sussex word meaning to wander about thoughtfully. Marnder in Kent dialect has a similar sense – meander, I’m also fond of the old Kent word Skymarooting- expectant at what’s around the next corner.