Traces of Place

Olivia Keith 

Location: Areas around north Preston, Bartle Hall, Harris Museum & Art Gallery
Year: 2016-2018

Olivia Keith’s research explored our emotional connections to place and the ways in which traces of tradition, collective memory and historical context are able to ‘make it through’ within new developments. Focusing on the north west of Preston, and particularly the area of Nether Bartle, Keith undertook a long-term mapping project, which involved the production of large-scale reportage drawings, and the creation of maps.

Through her work, Keith has explored the powerful role maps can play in perpetuating elements of a place and how memories can be preserved and passed on in tangible ways, such as through place names, stories, poems, songs and drawings. During spring 2016, Keith created a number of large scale reportage drawings in sites across the north of Preston, engaging people in conversation about the places during the process. The drawings, which were made on copies of old maps relating to each location, combine heritage and current information to explore the traces of tradition and historical context that are able to ‘make it through’ new developments.

Partners: City Deal, Preston City Council, Harris Museum & Art Gallery
Funders: Arts Council of England, Preston City Council, City Deal
Artwork by Olivia Keith

Keith’s research culminated in the creation of an illustrated lino print map of Nether Bartle, an area between Bartle Hall and Cottam, which falls within the NW Preston Development area and will soon be bisected by the Western Distributor and East West Link Road. It was developed as an ‘accessible and useful’ gift for both the existing residents who fear, and maybe resent, the developments, and those looking forward to moving into a new home. The intention was that the map functions in many different ways; to trigger memories, conversations, ideas; to connect people to place – and each other. Working with lino forced the artist to be decisive about design elements and content. However the simplicity is deceptive as the map simultaneously references the flora, fauna, history, topography, personal narrative and mythology of a place. For Keith ‘everything plotted on the map represents a research journey’.

In Certain Places

VB005A, Victoria Building
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE