It was the week before Christmas. Kate and I were sitting by the fire during a lunchtime lull at the Workhouse Chapel. We were discussing how to make a rookery (I believe that’s the correct collective noun) of origami albatrosses. You see, the trouble with origami albatri is that, with normal sized paper, they end up more sparrow-sized than the blotting-out-the-sun proportions of the Ancient Mariner’s best bird. But where would we find REALLY large sheets of unfolded, strong, decorative paper. We had just dismissed OS maps (way too folded) when a message pinged in……
And so the adventure began. Like all good adventures, it arrived out of the blue and set our hearts and minds racing.
The message was from Anna Frizzell, the RNLI’s Sustainability Manager. She was seeking a loving retirement home for an enormous pile of out of date Maritime Navigational Charts. They may no longer be used for their original purpose and she wondered if we might be able to give them new life as a creative resource for our artwork. D’you know…. I don’t think I’ve ever answered an email more quickly!
Kate and I are both makers - we prefer to use recycled materials for the things we create. Among other things, I bind books, using rescued paper, discarded maps, old comics - the charts would be perfect. Kate prints onto recycled paper (when she’s not rescuing greenhouses) and cuts up old maps for collage. We use the Workhouse Chapel as our HQ and sell our creations here. We’re always frugal and discerning about what and how much we use, but what if….just what if we had a huge* supply? It could be a game-changer.
*Huge isn’t quite a big enough word.
We’ve now made a couple of trips to the massively impressive RNLI HQ in Poole. The guided tour was mind blowing - we didn’t stop talking about it for days! As part of their Sustainability Programme they are aiming for zero-waste-to-landfill by 2030. We are so lucky to be a very small part of this really challenging initiative.
Our second trip was to collect the charts. Oh my! I think I’m in love!!!
Maps have always been a passion for both of us, but these charts show the world from a different perspective. The areas of land show only what is relevant to someone at sea, whilst the water is teeming with detail unimagined by landlubbers. It’s forcing us to reconsider so many things… It’s a massive privilege and an even bigger challenge to use these beautiful charts creatively, wisely, with carefree abandon, respectfully, and with exquisite care.
We’re really excited to have been given this opportunity to work with such an incredible resource, with such an amazing life-saving story behind it. We’ll update you as we go - I really don’t think we’ll be able to keep quiet about our land-based, seafaring adventures.