Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Mapping Alternative Ulster with Garrett Carr

Garrett Carr, Lecturer in Creative Writing, Queen's University Belfast

Writing a regular mapping blog,, and making maps of my own has made me a keen observer of cartography in Northern Ireland and Ulster, especially the work of independent practitioners. I think there is a lot of interesting work happening here but it is not widely known about. The map-makers themselves are a very disparate bunch and often don’t know about each other. Some of them work with the latest digital technology, charting urban spaces. Others are rural, folk-cartographers, working with paper and ink. I felt it was time, simply, to gather some of the best work and display it all in one room for everybody to see. The result is Mapping Alternative Ulster, an exhibition that is currently hanging in the Ulster Museum. It continues until 22 June.

Mapping Alternative Ulster - An exhibition at the Ulster Museum.

Maps of Northern Ireland are often used to illustrate traditional political divisions. During recent elections we were presented with the familiar cliché; green and orange, colour-coding the population. But such lazy maps conceal a much more nuanced and interesting place. This exhibition brings together diverse mapmakers: local historians, activists, artists, geographers and urban planners who interpret our surroundings in different ways. Mapping Alternative Ulster is an attempt to re-think our representation on maps.

I think a lot of the work in the show is important, a lot of it is beautiful, a lot of it is both. Many of the maps have fascinating stories behind them, they are told on the panels displayed along side each map.

After the Ulster Museum I hope to bring Mapping Alternative Ulster to other venues.

A series of events is running along side the show, find out more at

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