The Map of Mundi
Late in 2018, I was invited to bring the St Thomas Way touring exhibition away from the Welsh heritage trail and much closer to home – to Lighthouse Poole’s Centre for the Arts.
This was the first time that this work had been shown in a non-religious context. It was created specifically for Hereford Cathedral and has since been showing in a series of churches, on a ‘pilgrimage’ along St Thomas Way.
Each time it has been hung in a new location, it’s surprised me how well the works in the exhibition fit the space. Church architecture has a lot to do with this of course – I’ve been hanging the works in arched nooks, beside stained glass windows, in dark corners and on old stone walls – and it always seems to work. It often helps draw attention to lesser-visited parts of the building – to encourage everyone, even if they know their church really well, to look anew. So, hanging the work in a plain white gallery seemed to take 3 times as long as ‘usual’, not having a church or cathedral to help me out – and to be quite a different challenge. I had to approach the installation in a different way.
One of the biggest sources of inspiration and continued research on my work for St Thomas Way has been Hereford’s wonderful Mappa Mundi. It’s a 4-hour journey from Poole to go and see it though. So I asked if I could borrow a life-size reproduction of the map to help visitors in Poole understand the impact Mappa Mundi would have had on Medieval visitors seeing it for the first time.
The cathedral didn’t actually have a life-size copy to lend but kindly gave me permission to make one for the show. It arrived on the day we were hanging the work – ordered online (!) – from a fantastic company in London called Bags of Love who print images onto textiles and wallpaper. Printed then onto slightly textured wallpaper my Mappa Mundi was a key feature and talking point of the show. Visitors loved it.
To slow people down on their approach to the map and to create more of a sense of magic and wonder, I installed a ‘forest of string’ from the ceiling and hung Mappa Mundi squares from them – details from the map simply printed on tracing paper.