Fascinating stuff with maps …

emma johnson


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The Stone Book Quartet

The Museum of Thin Objects


I’ve come by a circuitous route to Alan Garner. His books weren’t a part of my childhood or adolescent reading and though I’ve had a 1970’s (?) copy of The Stone Book for many years, I’d never previously got around to reading The Stone Book Quartet – until now.

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Making Art From Maps

emma johnson

Making Art from Maps_Cover600


Making Art From Maps


Jill K. Berry

I am very proud to have my work featured in this beautiful new book by Jill K. Berry.
available from all good bookstores now 🙂

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Acadia at the Beginning of the 18th Century

All About Canadian History

Cartography Series: Because who doesn’t love looking at old maps? This blog series looks at the cartographic development of Canada.

Carte De L'AcadieCarte De L’Acadie Contenant by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin (1702). [Source] Please click on the image for a better resolution.

This map from 1702 by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin depicts the area that would become New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A part of Quebec is shown too. At the time this area was known as Acadia, a French colony. The map shows all the ports, harbours, forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers along the banks of the St. Lawrence. (In case you were wondering what the little French blurb in the corner says). Franquelin was actually the first official cartographer of Canada.

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100 years ago today – Antonio Gramsci, ‘I Hate New Year’s Day’

Via Stuart Elden

Progressive Geographies

I shared this a year ago, but since it was 100 years ago today… here is the translation of Antonio Gramsci, ‘I Hate New Year’s Day’, again.

occupationThis text was first pub­lished in Avanti!, Turin edi­tion, from his col­umn “Sotto la Mole,” Jan­u­ary 1, 1916.

Translated by Alberto Toscano for Viewpoint.

Every morn­ing, when I wake again under the pall of the sky, I feel that for me it is New Year’s day.

That’s why I hate these New Year’s that fall like fixed matu­ri­ties, which turn life and human spirit into a com­mer­cial con­cern with its neat final bal­ance, its out­stand­ing amounts, its bud­get for the new man­age­ment. They make us lose the con­ti­nu­ity of life and spirit. You end up seri­ously think­ing that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new his­tory is begin­ning; you make res­o­lu­tions, and you regret your irres­o­lu­tion, and so…

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Christmas Trilogy 2015 Part 3: Roll out the barrel.

The Renaissance Mathematicus

The village master taught his little school

The village all declared how much he knew,

‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;

Lands he could measure, times and tides presage,

And e’en the story ran that he could gauge

Oliver Goldsmith – The Deserted Village

As I have commented on a number of occasions in the past, although most people only know Johannes Kepler, if they have heard of him at all, as the creator of his eponymous three laws of planetary motion in fact he published more than eighty books and pamphlets in his life covering a very wide range of scientific and mathematical subjects. One of those publications, which often brings a smile to the faces of those not aware of its mathematical significance, is his Nova stereometria doliorum vinariorum (which translates as The New Art of Measuring the Contents of Wine Barrels) published in 1615. A…

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Book Review: On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on The Museum of Thin Objects:
Thorpe, A. (2014) On Silbury Hill Little Toller Books ISBN 978 1 908213 24 2 All impressive detective-work and field research aside, On Silbury Hill is a fine stand-alone memoir. But it’s more…

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Reflections on exhibition: life after Indigenous Australia

The British Museum exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation was the focus for my MA dissertation. It had a great impact on me, or perhaps I should say they had a great impact on me – the exhibition and the dissertation. Two stand out today: encounters – between visitors and objects, historians and subjects, authors and histories; and the reprise of my own encounter with the dissertation as a form of encounter.

I am currently in the middle of waves of thoughts about, within and upon these impacts. Clearly, or perhaps not, I am expecting to be able to express these coherently at some point. Writing here will I hope precipitate or encourage that eventuality.

Here is my first element, and extract from Jane Rogers’ Promised Lands:

“A new world worse than the old, because it can only be seen in terms of the old. Though its birds are brightly plumed, they cannot sing. Though the sun shines bright, there is insufficient rain. Though the mountains are high and full of magic, the function of mountains is to source rivers. Dry mountains are bad mountains, there’s nothing else to know.

And so the explorer, perhaps more than anyone else, is locked in his own cage; carries its bars before his eyes, views the country through its grid. Here we may farm sheep. Here, dig ores. Here, fields of corn, and over there a city. He does not even see the land, or traces of the massive dream ancestors that have shaped it; only how he will remake it, in the image of his own small country. He will mine it to increase the currency of his homeland. He will never escape.”

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Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation

Abe Muriata is a Girramay man of the Cardwell Range area Girramay Traditional Owner, Painter, Potter, Weaver and Shield Maker

Abe Muriata is a Girramay man of the Cardwell Range area
Girramay Traditional Owner, Painter, Potter, Weaver and Shield Maker

On 23rd April this year, at 10 am, the barrier at the bottom of the steps was removed and the doors of Room 35 at the British Museum were opened to the general public. Despite the speed and enthusiasm of a small group of French teenagers, I made it through them first.

If I had known then what I know now, I might have hesitated, I might have turned away.
Not. So not. It has had such an impact on me already, I wonder whether in retrospect I shall consider it to have been life-changing.

This exhibition has been much anticipated by many. With its planning going back to Australia more than 5 years ago, this is not a small thing. It’s a big thing, however you look at it: the numbers of people involved, the depth and breadth of their experience, their wisdom; the exhibition’s complex cultural, philosophical, historical, social and political dimensions, and its ambition.

There is so much to understand, and so little time. Indigenous Australia – Enduring Civilisation is the focus of my MA dissertation, and so understand it I will: somehow. I am in the early stages of a process that is happily flexible, encouragingly non-linear, and feels a bit messy. This is not helping me to write a traditional proposal – whatever that means. But it is helping me think in different ways from those I am used to, and that is very refreshing.

What is this exhibition? Well it is certainly more than what is behind the doors of Room 35: much, much more. It is the histories of all those who have been involved in its creation, which has brought them together, some for the first time, others familiar colleagues, friends. It is their hopes, expectations, demands, ambitions and loves. It is the meetings of hearts, minds and weary bodies from the Western Desert to the rooms of universities and the galleries and storehouses of museums. It is the informal conversations over food, beer, wine, tea, coffee, water, and the shared listening in talks, panels and conferences. It is the papers written, and the exhibition catalogue. It is the ceremonies, some public, some for selected audiences; others even more discrete and intimate. It is the creative impulses and responses. And of course, it is what the public can see and hear in Room 35. In the Millennial Great Court. In the British Museum. In London. More than 170 ‘objects’ – for want of a far, far better word – some hundreds of years old, their creators long dead; some newly made, their creators here and now, sharing it with people in many and varied circumstances. It is all these things and more.

There is so much to understand, and so little time. So I am reflecting on how to conceive of this differently.

I have already encountered some of the above life of the exhibition. I have passed through Room 35 several times; I have sat, sketched, written and reflected in the dim light. I have met and conversed with some lovely and fascinating people: museum professionals, artists, academics, writers and drummers. I’ve heard some impressive and emotive talks. I’ve seen Grayson Perry and Prince Charles up close and personal for the first time, and listened to those in influential, hierarchical positions. I have already been deeply affected. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that I am not the same person as I was a month ago. So I am already understanding something, somehow, in non-intellectual ways. I feel differently about my life. Perhaps my challenge, as I continue to encounter the exhibition through the eyes, ears and experience of others as well as my own, is not to try to understand, but to focus on creating a means, a process that will enable me to express, and necessarily to communicate in particular ways, something of my understanding.

And with that, I will cease writing this and make a start on that, where I am and with what I have, and do what I can.

Until 2nd August. Opening 10.00–17.30 Saturday to Thursday and 10.00–20.30 Fridays.


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Metaphors for the flaneur: ‘Botanizing’

Hybrid Flaneur

Text: Bill Psarras © 2015

Understanding metaphors

Metaphors have been used from an array of intellectual voices to describe the dynamic constellation of flaneur, city, walking and senses. Yet, before entering into such a constellation, I would like to describe what a metaphor really is. Metaphors are not just mere theoretical words. They describe practices and situations from everyday life, yet what is important is that they are actively derived from lived, embodied experience. Following Lakoff (1993: 203) and his analysis, metaphors are expressed through speech, however they are not located in language at all – but ‘in the ways we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of another‘. In their seminal book, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) categorize metaphors as (i) structural ones (something is structured in terms of another), (ii) orientational ones (related to spatiality: up-down, in-out, on-off e.t.c.) among others. Yet, our everyday metaphorical system is central to the understanding of…

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