Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Street Stories

Street Stories is my newest book. This is a photo of it hanging, my favourite view because of the lovely shadows created by light shining through the cutouts between the streets on the map. I made this book as an entry for an art competition and exhibition on the theme of "Heritage" organised for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust's 50th anniversary.

I used one of my most favourite maps- I think it was one that came from Dot's grandfather- of Wellington sometime in the 1940s I think. (Maps almost never have a publication year printed on them, so I have to date them by detective work). Anyway, this particular map is quite degraded, being printed in full glorious colour onto acidic paper which disintegrates more each time it is handled. So I handled it just enough to get colour copies made of part of it (the centre strip from Khandallah to Island Bay). Then I carefully cut out most of the blocks leaving a lacey net of streets between blocks and bands of sea and trees. A simple accordian fold, attached to a file-like red cover, allows it to be opened right out for viewing flat or hanging from a cord on the back of the cover.

As I was weilding my scalpel over areas of Thorndon now lost beneath multi-lane highways I was thinking about how sometimes street names survive longer than streets. And as I cut away the tidy grid of the central business district, I thought about how when buildings are torn down and replaced, the configuration of streets remains more or less intact. As I worked on the different suburbs where I have lived, visited friends, shopped or taken my daughter to school, I thought about how streets are a net of memories belonging to the thousands of people who each have our own memories of Adelaide Road or Cockaigne Crescent or Thompson Street.

Streets connect people now in a net as sturdy as human engineering can make, and connect past and present through memories as fragile as lace.


Jane in Dunedin said...

Beautiful! And the use of a map handed down through family to friend adds that layer of history and familial ties, that intangible 'feeling'/ spirit/ mana to the artwork.

E said...

Is there no limit to your inspiration and tirelessness to bring it about? I only wish I had a tenth of your commitment to your craft...E