28 Mar Where land meets sea
Whether someone walks through the streets of St Agnes for a day, or their entire lives treading in the footsteps of ancestors before them, it leaves an impression. It is this I hope to capture with my stitch maps created in my Studio Gallery in Peterville, St Agnes.
The paths, streets, buildings, the character of St Agnes are defined by its setting in wild and rugged landscape. Over centuries a community grows and shifts, nestled into, and wrapped around, the valleys, ridges, cliffs, coves. Consequently, any one building feature looks different from different viewpoints. This observation inspired my first Stitch Map.
Hours out and about sketching these different perspectives and details is followed by chatting with people about their favourite landmarks, buildings, memories. These are maps made from many eyes not just mine. A community map.
Collating ‘research’ I rough out overall design and layout on large sheets of brown paper.
Eventually I start to stitch on canvas. I am free sewing based on my sketches, not sewing over drawn lines. I am drawing with a needle and thread.
This process creates a naïve effect, expressing essence of a place over cartographical accuracy. It seems this naivety resonates with our first ‘wide eyed’ experiences of a place as a new visitor or childlike memories.
My Stitch Maps have always been memory maps. If you want exact scale, stick with Ordanance Survey! However if you want to meander again through streets, remember quirky cafés and curious ruins, walk back in time to a family meal at your Auntie’s, re-live clifftop dolphin watching then come take a peek.
In addition to stitch, mixed media textile techniques add texture and the signature photography of street signs emphasises the importance of names, local language and social history.
The making of Wild St Agnes was long. The original is huge. Even after starting stitching it developed as folk dropped by regularly to see progress, always keen to find something they identified with. ‘We’ve just been up that street to see a friend who lives tucked behind there’. So that little hidden building got stitched in. Walkers popped in and shared wildlife sightings – I’d squeeze another in.
Wild St Agnes Stitch Map celebrates the village within its land and seascape: a precious ecosystem. Trace a favourite walk along the cliff from Trevellas and Trevaunance Coves to Chapel Porth and back over St Agnes Beacon; a showcase for the diverse and precious wildlife of our Cornish coastline.
Prints of my St Agnes Stitch Maps are always in my Studio Gallery. Drop by to browse and come chat with me and see new works in progress.
Jo Polack Studio Gallery, Peterville, St Agnes, TR5 0QU
If travelling far please call or message to check open days or to arrange special visit. I live 2 mins away and am happy often to open up just for you!