Everywhere means something to someone. You don’t have to own it, or even see it every day, for a place and its stories to be important to you. The combination of commonplace histories and ordinary nature makes places what they are. Things do not have to be spectacular, rare or endangered for people to value them and want them about their everyday lives.
Sue Clifford

So begins Sue Clifford’s fascinating thoughtpiece Places, People & Parish Maps on the Common Ground website.

The creative outcome of the thoughtpiece has been for many communities and individuals to respond by creating their own ‘parish’ maps. There’s a gallery of some of them on the Common Ground website.

I was particularly taken by the more abstracted maps, such as that one created by artist David Nash of his home ground around Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales.


Nash has continue to use mapping as part of his art practice over the years, this ‘map’ charts his creative evolution over a lifetime’s working with wood…


Mapping a journey through a ‘family tree’ of creative ideas…

I find Nash’s seemingly naive map drawings really engaging and seductive, and they got me thinking – about my small piece of the Water Road.

My ‘Parish’, just a few miles of Oxford Canal…

When I say ‘my’ of course it isn’t mine in the sense of owning any particular pocket of land or ribbon of water. No, it’s ‘my’ part of the waterway by association and through it’s connection with countless memories of countless days spend experiencing it.

How would I go about mapping my watery ‘parish’, to reflect the sum total of all the days I’ve spent walking it, boating it, talking about it, photographing it, eating it, touching it, smelling it, feeling it, sleeping on it, dreaming about it, laughing and crying within it?

During the fag-days of this wet and grey mid-Winter trying to draw a map or two to celebrate my Water Road, and at the same time re-connecting me (if only at arms length) to the canal sounds an attractive proposition.

I think I’ll give it a go – why don’t you too? 

Further Reading:

Maps Are…
A Travelling Mindset…

One thought on “Mapping My Bit Of The ‘Water Road’

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