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Creative Cartographies ongoing

Creative Cartographies are a way to registering emotion and experience as place knowledge. Cultural mapping and creative cartography are methods of inquiry in social art making, urban planning, and community development that can make visible the ways local stories, practices, relationships, memories, and rituals constitute places as meaningful. Artists and cultural development workers use forms of cartography as tools for engagement, research, and to draw attention to counter-narratives and the politics of land, place and history. Within a broader context of artistic contributions to the interdisciplinary field, this paper examines three recent art-research projects I recently undertook in collaboration with a number of communities, artists and researchers in both Canada and Australia.

Five Weeks in Spring: a emotional map of Lilydale was a socially-engaged art project that visualised local engagement in public space and response to the changing natural environment through the creation of durational artwork, as part of the exhibition Force of Nature at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum in Victoria, Australia. The Yarra Ranges offer a beautiful landscape of hills and rivers for vista and recreation; however, local concerns of extreme weather events such as wind, floods, or summer bushfire are not distant. As a map of emotions, locals literally registered their emotions by stamping words on a large map in the gallery. What began as a collaboration between myself and artist Tammy Wong Hulbert, grew to become a much wider local conversation about concern for redevelopment of natural space and anxiety regarding extreme weather events.

EmpowerHER: a women’s map to the city was undertaken as an artist-researcher residency in Kamloops, BC, hosted by the Nicola-Thompson United Way and Thompson Rivers University. The project grew from a small engagement with women who accessed a micro finance program locally to a multi-site project to re-centre knowledge of women whom had experienced homelessness and transition. The mapping project visually identified experiences of beauty, fear, and important services. With more than 700 women participating, key learning from EmpowerHER included a multi-valenced understanding of place; the need for gender specific community support services; and the value of social knowledge exchange between women in transition. This project could be read as both a participatory advocacy research and social art project.  


Songs and Stories of Migration and Encounter a research collaboration between Membertou First Nation and the Centre for Sound Communities at Cape Breton University. With aim to draw out and document histories, I lead cultural mapping processes to contribute to the development of a local theatre project to tell the story of the relocation of Membertou community. Here, a workshop at the local cultural centre located around a large map of the area stimulated a series of conversations between and amongst community and elders to track flows of migration. Here, cultural mapping is understood as a dialogic method for participatory research. 

Badham, M., Garrett Petts, W.F. Jackson, S., Langois, J., Malthotra, (2019) ‘Artistic Approaches to Cultural Mapping: Key issues and research lines’, in Duxbury, N. et al (eds) Artistic Approaches to Cultural Mapping: Activating Imaginaries and Means of Knowing, Routledge.


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