Beyond Cartography: safeguarding our historic maps and plans
Special Collections Gallery
This exhibition showcases maps from the University of Southampton Library’s Special Collections, illustrating the challenges that these objects bring to conservators before conservation or long-term preservation takes place.
Conservation of maps and plans is affected by various factors. They come in differing formats and sizes, ranging from large rolled maps, with or without rollers, to small sketches, or folded into books. They may be printed or hand drawn, with inks, pencils and watercolours as main media or as annotations, on supports of paper, parchment, tracing papers and tracing linens. All these factors present individual challenges to the conservator, whether this be the physical size of a large-scale map, fugitive pigments and inks, or the loss of dimensional stability of the support, which is of particular significance to maps made up of many sections joined together and can affect the accuracy of measurement in those drawn to scale.
The maps and plans displayed in this exhibition were chosen not for their content but for their materiality and the challenges they pose to conservators.
The exhibition runs from 20 February – 28 April during which time the gallery is open weekdays, 10am to 4pm.
Level 4 Gallery
In Bernhard Siegert’s ‘The map is the territory’, he refers to the idea of ‘cartographic operations’. The suggestion is that our way of seeing the world is not simply represented in maps, but that map-making is itself a play of competing signs and discourses producing our subjecthood. These are the coordinates we come to live by, which in turn influence the marks and signs at our disposal when we seek to make and share representations of the world.
This exhibition brings together three alternative cartographic operations:
Jane Birkin’s 1:1 is a direct mapping of infrastructure behind the white space of display. Electric current and metal are plotted using a DIY store metal/voltage detector and the information transferred simply to print. Although 1:1 is an impassive engagement with the rule-based activity of cartography, it simultaneously performs an affective act of display.
Sunil Manghani and Ian Dawson’s Not on the Map is an image-text installation built into the gallery space. It draws upon maps held in the University’s Special Collections, picking out details from a volume of Spanish maps from the Ward Collection and military maps of Portugal taken from the Bremner Collection. These details are placed in dialogue with tracings from early and recent figurative works by Jenny Saville.
Abelardo Gil-Fournier’s Marching Ants draws upon historical photographic sources of landscape transformations driven by the building of large water irrigation infrastructures as part of 20th century Spanish land reforms. The work is a reminder of the use of forced labor to transform the lines of maps and diagrams into tunnels and channels in the earth.
Private view – all are welcome to attend!
A private view for the exhibitions will take place in the Level 4 Gallery on Tuesday, 28 February, 5.30pm – 8pm.
Please note that the Special Collections Gallery will close at 7pm. Visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.
Exploring Maps in the University of Southampton Special Collections
Archives and Manuscripts reading room
On Tuesday, 28 February 2017, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon highlighting a range of map material from the collections.
The afternoon will include a talk by Chris Woolgar, Professor of History and Archival Studies at the University of Southampton.
The event will take place alongside the private view for the new exhibitions. All visitors to the open afternoon are invited to attend.
1615-1700: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library
1715-1800: Talk by Professor Christ Woolgar: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library
Tickets for this event are now sold out.