Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Map as a Tablecloth at our Christmas Day Dinner...

I asked my grandmother if we could use my memory map of Malta as a tablecloth on Christmas day. Christmas Day in Malta is a is a day of tradition when my grandmother brings out her best tablecloth, china and silverwareand everything is perfectly laid out - so I wasn't sure how she wold feel about this break in tradition.


She immediately agreed. So I went to her house early on Christmas morning, with a huge map and 10 red markers and together with my grandmother and sister wrapped her dining table and laid it, polishing silverware, making a flower arrangements, etc...

my grandmother and sister laying the table
part of the memory map tablecloth

my sister stops to get a closer look

grandfather helping

grandmother serving the Christmas lasagne
after much convincing, since nobody wanted to draw over the tablecloth, 
the family began to add their version of Malta over mine.

My grandmother takes a break in correcting the cemetery to serve Christmas Pudding

almond cake, marzipan strawberries and coffee

my parents correct the area around Delimara

Nanna Nina's place


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Map Conversations

Some photographs showing my map conversations with family and project friends.

Henry and Vanna Coppini, my grandparents (below) were given the task of re-drawing Valletta, the city they both grew up in and knew before, during and after WW2. During our conversation there was some confusion in relation to Valletta's street names. The city's streets have had their names changed twice in my grandparents lifetime. From the old Italian street names of their childhood (eg. Strada Reale), to the post-war British street names (Kingsway) and finally the Maltese independence-time names (Republic Street) most of us are familiar with... and so as they drew their map, they called each and every street by three names....

My father and project friend, Joe Gerada (below), was given the task of re-drawing the South of Malta. This conversation touched on the social divide between North and South. On the layered history of the islands, the marks left by former rulers and the rapid change the country is currently experiencing....

 Joran Rapa Manche (above) a project friend and fellow maltese emigre drew all he could remember of Malta from his London flat - repeating my original process of recollection...

A Memory Map of Malta

Whilst in London, I drew a map of Malta from memory. It was a way of capturing all my idealistic images of home from overseas. These would be erased on my return, by immersion into research and by the reality I would be faced with (which often is a sharper but less beautiful version of a memory). The map is distorted by nostalgia (homesickness), it is completely inaccurate.

(click on the image to enlarge)

As I drew it I began to feel quite uncomfortable. I started to realize that it reveals more about me than about Malta, and the thought of ever showing it to a Maltese person made me uncomfortable, for they would be able to read all sorts of things about me by looking at the map. The map shows the areas of the island that I know well, and hold dear revealing my social class, first language, clues to my family history, interests,...

Since this map is my version of Malta - and since I don't want the project to be completely from my perspective - I decided to get the map corrected, so that it slowly became the Maltese* version of Malta. I made 10 copies of the map and went home equipped with a tape recorder, red marker pens and a lot of time and patience. I would ask as many people as possible to draw their version of the map over mine.

keep reading the blog to know what happened next...

*I say "Maltese" for lack of a better word. I wish to use a word that does not in any way exclude people who live in Malta, or consider Malta their home, but are not defined as "Maltese". However I chose to use "Maltese" because it contrasts with previous versions of Malta that were presented by colonisers, because I hope to give value to the "Maltese" perspective by mapping it.

Malta as it appears on a World Map

If you were to take a world map, and increase its scale so that Malta was legible, the star that denotes Valletta on the map would almost cover the whole country.