Let’s Map Stroud

Have you ever looked at a map of Stroud?  Not just glancing at the dog-eared excuse for a road atlas in the glove box, when you’re not sure how to get somewhere – but really questioned it, challenged it?

All these lines, colours and names, a blob on a road atlas close to junction 13 of the M5 somewhere above Bristol and below Cheltenham and Gloucester.  Is that what Stroud is really like? Is the pastel montone of our wheelie mouse scrollable realities only broken by enormous Google marker pins hanging over us like giant swords of Damoclies?

Have we ever stopped to question whether the map represents our real lives, whether it’s OK that the uniform grey of ‘urban area’ reduces our industrial heritage, our Cotswold stone walls, our steep valley side red brick terraces, our hopes our fears, our dreams, our meaning; to lines, points and polygons?

Do maps reflect our reality or do they in some way create it?  Of course maps lie – they’d have to otherwise we’d end up with a three dimension multi-sensory recreation of Stroud that was the same as Stroud… and that would be impractical, so map makers have squeezed and generalised, symbolised and flattened. But in doing this, in creating a scientific, objective model of the world, of Stroud, have we also de-personalised our favourite places, like statitics representing real lives.  In this context map makers are like gods, creating worlds and destroying meaning.

In this exercise we put the map-makers tools in the hands of the people, and use a combination of senory and electronic media to convey the place that Stroud means to us.
Stroud is  a place that means so many different things to so many different people, and this project aims to ‘re-draw the map’ in order to reflect this diverse sense of place, that the people living here have.

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