Changing Landscapes

“In the beginning, the land was soft”, thus began the first talk of the British Cartographic Society’s Symposium. By William Cartwright, the words relate the ‘feel’ of Australia before ‘lines’ (fences, roads, and railways) snaked their way into and across that continent; the ‘softness’ due, quite literally, to the absence of hoofed animals (or shod humans) to compact the ground.

Talks ranged from the historical, poetical, deeply thoughtful, through to the airy heights of hi-tech. I missed “Using PopChange Raster data with RStudio (nope, me neither), to attend “Adding an extra dimension: basemaps for modern GIS” on the grounds I understood most of the words used in the title. Yet here too, the excellent Nicholas Duggan lost me on software I am sure I could understand if my head wasn’t firmly stuck in the 18th Century.

The joy of these events is the quality of conversation between talks and the shared passions. Without understanding ‘how’, Nicholas has laid my recreation of Hutton’s (missing) contour map over a GIS generated relief map of Schiehallion, (follow this link for a fuller picture than these screenshots can give), opening up an entirely new approach to visualise and assess the data Hutton was working from: thank you Nick! (And a huge thank you to BCS for inviting me to talk).Next up: CSoP (see events page for an explanation)


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maps for Changing Reality

The programme is published and booking system live, for the British Cartographic Society (BCS) – Society of Cartographers (SoC) Conference.

There are plenty of interesting talks, workshops and debates scheduled, and as the blurb says: come and join with mapmakers, map users and other enthusiasts  at Redworth Hall Hotel, County Durham, DL5 6NL

5th to 7th September 2017.

To book a place use the link

I am delighted to be showing models and related work throughout the Conference, and to be giving a talk about the project on the Thursday morning.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Edition

It was the best of sunny Highgreen that saw the launch of the second edition of the publication last Sunday. Aside from the story of the invention of contour lines – and lots of images – there’s a short piece by Sara Maitland and a longer one from Chris Fleet of the National Map Library giving an overview of how the story of contours sits within a history of cartography. It’s a good read and if you don’t have a copy already and would like one, please message or email me.

Great also was to be sent images of the models from Tim Bird. Sadly they’re boxed up again now and unlikely to see daylight till the British Cartographic Society Conference this Autumn (unless anyone knows of a venue that would be interested in hosting them?)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing Day

Sunday 23rd April between 2 and 6, the Great Lines Project will be back at Highgreen Manor, Northumberland. It’s only a small part of the next Sharing Day, the main event is artist in residence Lucy May Schofield’s beautiful new print works.

Last time I was there the contour models weren’t finished, so I will be showing these plus – with luck – the second edition of the booklet (very pleased the first sold out) which is with the printers at the moment.

If you can make it along it would be great to see you there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Late notice, apologies. I’m talking about the project again, this time it’s at a Research Slam in Edinburgh, (tomorrow night).

It’s free, so if you’re in the vicinity – and free – please come along:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Publication

The plan was to produce the Great Lines publication in time for the Opening at the Lit & Phil last June, but one of the advantages of the delay has been that I could include images from the Exhibition within it.

I am really pleased with the results which include a wonderful opening text from Chris Fleet (from the National Library of Scotland) and a closing one from Sara Maitland (Author). Sandwiched between are 26 pages of images and texts, some new, plus some that have appeared previously in the blog.If you would like to order copies, please email me for details:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


When I began the project I knew nothing of the Royal Society, what an Astronomer Royal might be or what form the wonderful ‘Philosophical Transactions’ took (which have supplied so much of my source material). The learning process – particularly the kindness of librarians and curators – has whetted my appetite both for research and writing; I have found the processes; shaping and editing of a sentence, akin to sculpting.geoconnect

Last week I took the show to GeoConnect in London; it was a strange experience talking about the work to a background ‘drone’ of UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles). But I met a huge number of fascinating people enthused by the project, but who might not normally enter a gallery: ‘breathtakingly beautiful’, ‘fantastic’, ‘great talk’, ‘inspired me as an ex-cartographer’ were just some of the comments. And thank you for those who tweeted about it (I can’t write in short enough sentences).geoconnect-2The Conference saw the launch of the publication – more on that later – but having not written in a while, I just wished to add a huge thank you to all those who have supported the project to date.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments