Holly Graham

‘Mapping Memories’, Holly Graham

The ‘Mapping Memories’ project aimed to create a space for listening, a place for reflection, and creative story-telling. Members of the Waterloo Action Centre’s Sixties Plus group in Lambeth, in collaboration with Holly Graham, explored and shared independent experiences of living, both within and outside of the local area.

The project participants were a very diverse mix of nationalities; however, most who participated had migrated to the UK in the 60s, several from Caribbean countries, others from Belgium, Zimbabwe, and Northern Ireland. Participants kept ‘scrap-boxes’, a form of sketchbook to document project development, and created a series of prints and spoken audio-works based on conversations emerging over the course of the workshops.

Unpacking the Box: ‘The casket contains the things that are unforgettable, unforgettable for us, but also unforgettable for those to whom we are going to give our treasures. Here the past, the present and a future are condensed. Thus the casket is memory of what is immemorial.’ Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (1958).

The participants began the project by covering boxes to use as a 3D scrap-book for their collected research. They were encouraged to consider the form of the box as a metaphor for the mind: a container; a protective casing; a place to order, categorise and put things away; a private space which can be opened and made temporarily public. Participants conducted interviews with each other to uncover each other’s experiences of living within and outside of Lambeth. Following a visit to Tate Britain to experience the audio-guide sound piece ‘The Darks’ by artists Ruth Ewan and Astrid Johnston, the group began to think about these interviews as their own audio-guides of sorts; leading the listener through their own life journeys. Bearing these in mind, participants developed visual ‘maps’ that sit alongside their audio recordings, which they then screen-printed onto cloth and paper. Holly Graham and the participants discussed the significance of oral tradition against the form of print as a means of duplicating and fixing narratives.

‘Mapping Memories’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from April to September 2014.