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A Sense of Place

For young people aged 11-14 years with little or no sight
December 2009 – March 2010
Funded by Devon Record Office (now Devon Heritage Centre)

Double Elephant worked with Devon Record Office (now known as Devon Heritage Centre) to create a project using its archive of maps. We wanted to enable young people to find out more about the history of their locality as well as access printmaking as a new creative process.

This project marked the beginning of a series of diverse collaborative projects between the two organisations.

Pupils from West of England School and College for Children with Little or No Sight, aged between 11 – 14, worked with Katherine Weston, Heritage Outreach Officer, and Emma Molony, printmaker, each Friday morning for three months.

The aim was to explore how the Countess Wear area in Exeter, where the school is based, has changed since the 1840s and to map the school through a body of sensory artwork that could be exhibited and touched.

We began by printing out tactile versions of tithe maps and early Ordnance Survey maps of the area. The pupils learned about how the landscape had developed in comparison to their own knowledge of the school’s surroundings from their mobility routes.

With art teacher Linda Williamson we then began to introduce printmaking and the portable presses. We used heavily textured materials like wallpaper, sand, cardboard and glue to create tactile collagraphs and monoprints.

The challenge for Double Elephant was to make prints and plates designed to be touched. We achieved this through using the heaviest Somerset paper, a firm pressure on the etching press and lots of diverse and heavily textured materials. The prints were then lightly varnished.

We get so used to the visual qualities of printmaking that it was refreshing to explore the sounds of the ink, the feeling of rolling the plate through the press and the touch of the tactile plate surface.

The exhibition of the pupils’ maps went on display at Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre and at the West of England School and College for Children with Little or No Sight.

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