Monday, 5 June 2017

The Villagers

The Village Hall was used as the venue for these map making sessions. The difference being I visited the venues before to ready made audiences. This is the other way around and participants visit the venue. Villagers were very interested in seeing what had been done so far as they were the last group to contribute.

As residents for many many years they had seen a lot of changes to the village including the putting up of the perimeter fence around the Defence Academy and the various residential phases of building programmes. They described things like the old new houses? They recalled times when the Defence Academy was clearly a vast children's playground where access was totally free and unrestricted. We spent some time establishing some of the core historical elements that were felt to be relevant. Then more personal details started emerging. Houses, garden features, individual allotments appeared and the detail was beginning to accumulate to very complex levels. Dogs, neighbours, friends roles in the community were illustrated.

This I felt was exactly the same as the Defence Academy Friends and Family  group who had commented with wit and humour about where they lived, and they were very relaxed drawing about each other and other people. I was not so sure the Villagers would take the same approach, but after core detail was established they were exactly the same commenting freely on theirs and the lives of others. 

I had wondered if the civilian half and the services half of the town would have very separate and distinct differences. And yes of course they do and it shows very clearly on the map. But the informal commentary, inclusion and community 'in jokes' were shared and laughed about and the map used as a vehicle for social comment has been used in exactly the same way by both groups. The crossover between the two communities was seamless in this respect, yet the life styles are very different. The villagers long relationship to one place compared to the parachute in and out lives of the services families, it is in a map making project that their lives have had some kind of shared meaning.   

foreground the old village, behind the academy 

foreground the academy, behind the old village

The civilian side of the town is all about accurate placement of property and buildings. Detail important about what is (and what was)  in that exact position...(ish). Roads are a key feature to navigate by. Representing the golf course and surrounding areas proved very difficult as there were no roads to reference position by, and these areas were neglected unless I really pressed for info.
The families in the services had different concerns and approaches and someone suggested it was like the Eric Morecombe line where 'they are all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order'. This is a good description as all the elements of the campus are depicted but location not important. Instead flags, emblems and insignia were used to identify people not properties.
In a world where the back ground or base is totally fluid, place no longer can be used as system for belonging and their identity has become represented by an emblem.

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