Cultural Community Mapping
Sidmouth has a rich and eclectic mix of places, spaces, people, groups and events that contribute to its cultural life. Sidmouth School of Art wanted to explore this diversity - to celebrate it, collaborate and explore new opportunities. So, we commissioned Emma Molony to conduct community research and create an artwork to represent what she found.
The inspiration for this project was through a conversation about our own journey and future direction with our mentor Peter McCaughey, Lead Artist of WAVEParticle, Glasgow. Peter connected us with the work of the American neo conceptual artist Mark Lombardi, known for his "narrative structures" diagrams or sociograms that are also works of art, and how they help to visualise information and discover new insights. We captured that conversation with Peter as he reflected what he recognised and as he helped us to shape what next for SSA...
The project got underway over a year ago in 2022 with Emma's community research and her having over 40 conversations with a variety of people and groups who in some way connect to art and culture in Sidmouth.
Sidmouth School of Art through its Sidmouth Makes Art project and collaborations are starting to be a catalyst to realise some of the ambitions we heard about.
Dynamic, inclusive, innovative, optimistic culture and creativity can co-exist with Sidmouth's rich heritage and build resilience and wellbeing to face challenges in our community and to celebrate the town's uniqueness.
Emma took inspiration from the work of artists Mark Lombardi and his maps and Edward Tufte's visualisations of data, using layers and transparencies to make sense of the information she had gathered and using lines, colour and shapes to interpret what she had discovered, creating an artwork that invites curiosity and a sense of potential.
Emma MolonyArtist Print Maker
Emma is an artist printmaker in Devon and Project Officer at Double Elephant Print Workshop in Exeter. Her practice involves combining printmaking with interdisciplinary art forms usually in a site specific context. Emma has undertaken residencies at The Art Room in Oxford, Axminster Heritage Centre, Preston Manor in Brighton and Kensington Palace.
Emma created a new artwork A Sidmouth Map - on display at Sidmouth Wallspace June to August 2023. Through plotting all the information she gathered, Emma used screen printing as her medium to create 12 layers. Each layer building the rich picture, which was then labelled.
Through A Map for Sidmouth, we took the project to a new dimension as we see its potential to grow and develop, to be added to and used as a helpful tool to understand as well as to create new artwork with. We asked digital artist Sam Eyre to take on the job of digitalising Emma's beautiful image without affecting the integrity of her work. This collaboration has opened up new creative opportunities.
Some of the insights and aspirations discovered through Emma's conversations...
More art on show please!
Integrating art and wellbeing is key
Plenty of passion for being part of an arts scene
Joint working across organisations in Sidmouth is desirable
Exhibition, social and accessible venue space needed
The Ham, the beach, The Fishermen's Shed are important cultural spaces in the summer
There are lots of creative people: storytellers, musicians, actors, authors, playwrights, artists, photographers, choreographers, festival and events organisers
Harnessing young creative talent and ideas to sustain and support journeys towards work and entrepreneurship is vital
There are strong links between cultural groups and environmental groups - art and sustainability together are powerful
Opportunities exist for the thinkers, makers, creators, doers across art, culture, science, nature, learning and wellbeing to collaborate more
Sam EyreSam Eyre, Digital Artist
Sam is Digital Artist and Head of Art & Design, Photography and Digital Illustration at Coombeshead Academy. Sam who goes by the name of Same Year is experimental and self proclaimed as "exploring between the mess and the machine". Sam's work is multi layered and often mixed media Sam Eyre (@same_year) | Instagram
The process of digitalising Emma's original screen print, opened up the potential to add content and new connections and collaborations are created and to see how the project could evolve and develop. Sam's collaboration with Emma created a dynamic between the tactile layering of the screen print and digital art, manipulating the work using alternative colours and the process of inversion to explore what might be possible...