We took a break from our regular walks to sit down and reflect on previous walks. Some of the children were keen to draw their own ‘map’ of the places we had walked and so we set aside time to do some map drawing.
A number of the children drew winding pathways dotted with plants and animals – reminders of things they had seen along the way.
A few recalled the various bits of ‘treasure’ we had found – such as the bottle with a message in it – and this soon led to drawing maps with all kinds of hidden treasures.
As if prompted by the nautical theme of treasure maps and sunken ships, some recalled the wooden remains they had once spotted submerged in the lake – their own ‘Titanic’ discovery. All at once the stories began, and the drawings became not so much pictures ‘of’ things, as parts of the story itself. The force of an imaginary storm was conjured up on one child’s page, and the outline of the boat slowly disappeared from view under layers of dark, swirling wind and rain. He explained as he drew:
This is the black storm
The red is the fire running about in the water.
The storm is putting out the fire.
See how dark it’s getting.
The water is putting the fire out.
Several children took up this form of ‘storm drawing’, recounting stories of people going overboard, ships being broken to pieces and all matter reduced to nothing in the path of the dark storm.
As the imaginary storms abated, the drawings came to an end. These did not so much offer finished representations of the place, but instead a compelling reminder of the liveliness of weather, place, people and the ways these are so often flung together. In these drawings, I was reminded of Doreen Massey’s work and her hope that we might liberate our idea of space as something that is far from ‘closed’ or ‘static’ or able to be represented on the ‘flat horizontality of the page’, but rather to come to understand it as something lively or ongoing. Place in this sense can be thought of as an ‘event’. As Massey says:
What is special about place is not some romance of a pre-given collective identity or of the eternity of the hills. Rather, what is special about place is precisely that throwntogetherness, the unavoidable challenge of negotiating a here-and-now … and a negotiation which must take place within and between both human and non-human (Massey, 2005, 140).
The children’s drawings seemed to somehow bridge the divide between representation and event, opening an imaginary and lively space through a drawing in which they were at the same time drawn by the weather.
Massey, D. (2005) For Space, Sage publishing, London.