Map Making: Kettering Co-operatives
I blogged about my trip to visit the ‘Big Yellow Caravan’ in Sneinton Market a few months ago and during that trip I was inspired by a community map idea. After a bit of research, I decided to start a project to commission an artist to create a similar style map for Kettering Museum and Art Gallery.
Finding an artist to commission to complete the work was the hardest part, despite help and recommendations from the then Gallery Officer, no-one seemed keen to be involved with the project. Then, during the Fill [This Space] submissions day, Emma Read from One Off Maps walked in and changed everything.
Emma runs her own, small business of one off pieces of art. Mainly she works small scale, but every element of the map is researched, planned, drawn and painted by her. Each is completely unique – there is nothing else like it! She creates maps for weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, open gardens, B&Bs, holiday homes and small businesses. They are used on websites and displayed on walls. They are sent on invitations, postcards, change of address cards and greetings cards.
To find out more about Emma and her work visit www.oneoffmaps.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Once Emma kindly agreed to work with me, the research had to begin. My idea was for Emma to be inspired by the co-operative industries of Kettering over the last 100 years. As there is an upcoming exhibition about this subject, the materials were already available for Emma to come and look at in her own time. This in-house research time then led to her completing more research, around the town. She said,
“I enjoyed researching the Kettering Co-operatives map – looking at the old photos, finding the buildings and talking to people. You will find that my map includes locations from across the long history of the Co-operative, from the first shop right up to the new shop on London Road.”
The Tricky Part
As mentioned previously, Emma works small scale, therefore commissioning an A1 sized piece was hugely out of her comfort zone. The main issue she found was the size, but this had other implications too. She couldn’t get the type of paper she liked in that size and other types of paper weren’t taking the watercolour in the way she would like. Luckily, Emma’s perseverance paid off and the end result is amazing.
The finished map was mounted and framed and put on display in the newly refurbished ‘Community Space’ on the ground floor of the museum. Alongside the map, I have created ‘Co-op Memory’ cards which can be filled with the stories and thoughts of visitors and left in the post-box for use in the upcoming exhibition this autumn. The map will stay in the space throughout the summer, and will also be used in other co-operative exhibition events over the coming year.
If you have any Kettering Co-operative memories to share, or would just like to admire Emma’s amazing work – please do pop along to the Museum.
By Siân Fox, Resilience Syndicate Intern at Kettering Museum and Art Gallery