Tag Archives: design

Visualising History: Geography, Art and Exhibitions

by Fiona Ferbrache

Emigration, Plymouth Cattewater (oil painting by Gordon Frickers, (www.frickers.co.uk/art/home-page/) reproduced with his kind permission).

Many different forms of representation have provided inspiration to geographers: works of literature, art, photography, political analysis, tutorials and journal articles, to name a few.

Recently, I had the opportunity to view some paintings produced by marine artist Gordon Frickers, which provide detailed insight on geographies of the modern and ancient marine world.  Frickers’ paintings are underpinned by comprehensive research of written texts, photographs and objects to produce a visual portrait that is as accurate as possible.  One of his scenes Emigration, Plymouth Cattewater, is an illustration of emigrants departing Plymouth in the 19th century¹.  This particular painting reveals a largely forgotten business at a time of significant historical migration, and invites the viewer’s curiosity.  It seems clear that geographers cannot understand the world without paying attention to such visual forms of representation.

In 2009, the RGS-IBG hosted an exhibition: Hidden Histories Made Visible.  Its aim was to bring into full view those people who have been only partially visible in other representations i.e. photographers, Sherpas and cartographers who made expeditions possible but who remain in the shadow of explorers such as Livingstone and Mallory.  The exhibition is the subject of Felix Driver’s paper in TIBG.  He illustrates the way in which the exhibition challenges assumptions about the history of exploration and geography – in this case celebrating the role of the supporting team rather than the individual explorer.  Driver demonstrates how the exhibition’s choreography conveys this message, and reminds us that any representation of the world – even an exhibition – is always partial.  For anyone organising an exhibition, this is a useful read.

After viewing Frickers’ work and reading Driver’s account of Hidden Histories, one is reminded of the value to geographers of paying critical attention to visual forms of representation.  In conjunction, a number of recent and current exhibitions might inspire geographers with alternative perspectives:

The Robinson Institute by Patrick Keiller at the Tate Modern

Writing Britain: wastelands to wonderlands at the British Library

Geographical blueprint: the art of the handcrafted globe at the Royal Geographical Society

Felix Driver, Hidden histories made visible? Reflections on a geographical exhibition,Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00529.x

Gordon Frickers’ website provides further information about his paintings and associated research.

¹ The Port of Chester was also a significant point of departure for emigrants, albeit less so than the major ports of London, Liverpool and Plymouth.  Frickers’ The Port of Chester (1863), shows this port at its busiest period.

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (25th May 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Soil hydrodynamics and controls in prairie potholes of central Canada
T S Gala, R J Trueman and S Carlyle
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01103.x

Paying for interviews? Negotiating ethics, power and expectation
Daniel Hammett and Deborah Sporton
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01102.x

Domestication and the dog: embodying home
Emma R Power
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01098.x

Adapting water management to climate change: Putting our science into practice

Runoff attenuation features: a sustainable flood mitigation strategy in the Belford catchment, UK
A R Nicholson, M E Wilkinson, G M O’Donnell and P F Quinn
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01099.x

Commentary

Geography, libertarian paternalism and neuro-politics in the UK
Mark Whitehead, Rhys Jones, Jessica Pykett and Marcus Welsh
Article first published online: 21 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00469.x

Subaltern geopolitics: Libya in the mirror of Europe
James D Sidaway
Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00466.x

Original Articles

Faith and suburbia: secularisation, modernity and the changing geographies of religion in London’s suburbs
Claire Dwyer, David Gilbert and Bindi Shah
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00521.x

Mobile nostalgias: connecting visions of the urban past, present and future amongst ex-residents
Alastair Bonnett and Catherine Alexander
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00531.x

Dalits and local labour markets in rural India: experiences from the Tiruppur textile region in Tamil Nadu
Grace Carswell
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00530.x

The Korean Thermidor: on political space and conservative reactions
Jamie Doucette
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00528.x

‘Faith in the system?’ State-funded faith schools in England and the contested parameters of community cohesion
Claire Dwyer and Violetta Parutis
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00518.x

The short-run impact of using lotteries for school admissions: early results from Brighton and Hove’s reforms
Rebecca Allen, Simon Burgess and Leigh McKenna
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00511.x

Learning electoral geography? Party campaigning, constituency marginality and voting at the 2010 British general election
Ron Johnston and Charles Pattie
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00527.x

Hidden histories made visible? Reflections on a geographical exhibition
Felix Driver
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00529.x

‘Read ten thousand books, walk ten thousand miles’: geographical mobility and capital accumulation among Chinese scholars
Maggi W H Leung
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00526.x

Digital clouds and the politics of design

by Matthew Rech

Last week London’s Mayor Boris Johnson announced a competition shortlist of buildings designed to provide the centre piece for the London 2012 Olympic village. Committed to creating a ‘legacy for the East end of London’, and a popular tourist attraction, the designs aim to alter London’s skyline forever (Fildes, 2009).

However, and not forgetting a shortlist allegedly containing designs by former Turner Prize winners, there has been a clear and stand-out forerunner: the ‘Digital Cloud’. Consisting ‘tall mesh towers and a series of interconnected plastic bubbles that can be used to display images and data’, the digital cloud boasts an international team of architects, artists and engineers.

Although the emergence of the cloud as forerunner to the competition undoubtedly rests upon the early publication of design details, this largely unreported announcement may, arguably, hide certain political realities associated with the design, planning and construction of large buidlings in urban centres.

As Igal Charney argues in Area, despite the fact that architectural projects provide cities with identity and aesthetic legitimacy, we must be aware of the power of architiecture in terms of its ability to dictate the future of urban growth. Although many aspects of the digital cloud are extremely admirable (not least the progressive financing plans), the ‘urban re-imagining’ that the cloud implies, must always be sited within the political and economic milieu from which it may finally emerge.

Read Jonathan Fildes’ article at BBC online

Read Charney, I (2007) The politics of design: architecture, tall buildings and the skyline of central London. Area, 39. 2, 195-205

Read more at www.raisethecloud.org

Virtual Conference Report: Day Seven (27 Oct, 2009)

By Paula Bowles800px-Three_chiefs_Piegan_p.39_horizontal The seventh day of the conference has continued with the key themes of ‘breaking down boundaries’ and interdisciplinarity. Roy Baumeister (Florida State University) began the day with his keynote lecture entitled ‘Human Nature and Culture: What is the Human Mind Designed for?’ By utilising the concepts of evolutionary and cultural psychology, Buameister is able to explore the intrinsic significance culture holds for humanity. Two other papers were also presented today. ‘Text as It Happens: Literary Geography’ by Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo) and Stefan Müller’s (University of Duisburg‐Essen) ‘Equal Representation of Time and Space: Arno Peters’ Universal History.’ These contributions have utilised a wide and diverse range of disciplines including history, cartography, geography and literature. Finally, Devonya Havis’ publishing workshop entitled ‘Teaching with Compass’ offers some interesting ideas as to how best implement technology within the classroom.