The Drawing of a Journey

February 22, 2014


Photo: The Walking Piece, Matthias Sperling and Siobhan Davies Studios, London


Photo: Practice Ireland, Day Away for Artists Working with Children, Masking Tape Workshop, Map of Encounters

map = picture, sketch, design, plan, print, drawing, tracing, portrayal, depiction, projection, delineation, diagram, arrangement

Drawing upon a journey documents passages across both familiar and unfamiliar places, encountering geography, landmarks and people along the way. Tracking and marking one’s travels can become a record of activity and a personal reflection.  A map can depict investigations of personal and social spaces meeting and implicating each other. The act of mapping can also sketch out the performative aspect of walking, the interrogation of mind, body and situation through intentional rites and rituals.


Illustration: Finding a Way Around, Poetry Map, Ravensdale Forest, County Louth, Ireland

Sketches of geography can become a personal archive of walks. Combined with words they become examples of visual poetry that transcribe experiences into drawn lines of travel. The depiction of a path does not map out a destination, but portrays what you think about as you trace over a byway. Words accompany steps, and paths are the accumulation of many people’s routes through landscapes that define walking trails and a history of footsteps.


Photo: Katie Holten, It Started On the C Train

Usually I’m on the move, and I started to crochet on the subway making circular shapes that were like a drawing accompanying my journey. I collected a bundle of crochet doodles, all made from a simple chain stitch and connected them together. The bundles of crocheted ‘maps’ can be displayed and assembled in different ways (Katie Holten, It Started on the C Train, Irish Museum of Modern Art)


Photo: Letter from Poland, Photo by Clare Moloney

A pedestrian’s language can speaks about rights of way, getting lost, and finding something by chance.

Making one’s way through streets and landscape can mark time and map lines of encounter. It can involve familiarity, deviation, and wandering around in circles. The drawing of a map can be instinctual, not so much a fact, but a kind of imaginative possibility. Mapping is plotting lines of habit and discovering new situations.

Getting lost is not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind who you are, who others think you are. (Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost)


Photo: Nobutaka Aozaki, Here to There, Hand Drawn Maps of New York

Mapping journeys and drawing upon space can be an evocative way of sharing stories in art therapy. Lines marking land or noting the surfaces of pavement and urban spaces represent the meeting of identity and context. Personal maps, as part of a journal, record ordinary life and departures from the everyday. They mark out patterns of movement and spur of the moment impulses, together encompassing the diversity of an individual trying to find their way in life.


Photo: Fiona Robinson, Mapping Space


Photo: Kathy Prendergast, City Drawings, London


Katie Holten,

Walking and Art: A Blog About the Uses of Walking in Art

Walk of the Week: Walking Through Modern and Contemporary Art Practice

Karen O’Rourke, Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost