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All mapped out: Tonbridge artist Christine Highland looks at maps differently

PUBLISHED: 18:27 29 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

All mapped out: Tonbridge artist Christine Highland looks at maps differently

All mapped out: Tonbridge artist Christine Highland looks at maps differently

Tonbridge artist Christine Highland looks at maps in a very different way, creating highly unusual artworks based on line and pattern

Tonbridge artist Christine Highland looks at maps in a very different way, creating highly unusual artworks based on line and pattern


Christine Highland specialises in creating highly unusual artworks based on maps, working from a roomy studio in Tonbridge where shes been based for eight years. Theres a long table with a lot of her work, including sculptures, another area for the maps and one for the map-based brooches she also creates.


A qualified interior designer, Christine worked for architects for several years before taking up adult art classes in Tunbridge Wells. She went back to West Kent College in Tonbridge to study for a degree but halfway through decided she had good ideas and, as she says, left before they were disciplined out of her!


Once you have developed your ideas you have more freedom, and at college they steer you along a different
path. Ive been selling my art for the last couple of years and have been able to do what I wanted.


I love pattern work, some of my work is done on the computer, where I scan in patterns from clothes in clients wardrobes and then create an individual pattern piece.


Christine has been exhibiting in various small galleries in Kent, such as Cranbrook Library and the Arts Centre in East Grinstead, Sussex. She has also shown at the Bean Caf in Tunbridge Wells and is currently excited at being able to sell work in the shop at Eastbournes great new Towner Gallery. This latter is one of her signature works, a map of Eastbourne.


There are several processes before a map is completed and I enjoy them all. First, I get a map of the area thats complete, maybe from Google, an AA book or an A-Z if its of a place in London. I look at satellite and tourist maps and then get them blown up. Next I get this put on heavy paper. For the skeleton I use thin card and cut out all the roads, so its like a stencil.


Next I watercolour the paper then trace the stencil with a pencil and go over it with a pen. Then I start the pattern work. Initially OS gave stimulus and it got my mind thinking about looking at maps differently, then that fed into putting things on the map. I have a fascination with maps.


This fascination is shared with her clients, who like to look at a map and find where they live and see patterns. You tend to look at the shape rather than the roads, she adds.


There is a restricted palette of colours on the maps. One client wanted a save-the-date map for a wedding in London in a black and purple heart shape. Christine usually uses black and red, with blue if there is water.


Her clients tend to be businesses and she has had requests from a pub, a web designer wanting one for an office, plus commissions from people for their homes. One couple who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Shrewsbury wanted a map, which Christine created in gold.


I do see them as tourist maps as well. I have created one called Tate to Tate (Tate Britain to Tate Modern) with the river and boats: It looked really cute.


The average size of her maps is A3, although she can create any size required. The pub map, for instance is bigger. It takes about 20 hours to create an A3 map.


Christines artistic heroes include Mir and Alexander Calder, because they are very into line, but for randomness and inspiration she likes land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Her own inspiration is pattern and line rather than looking at roads, because I instantly want to fill them in!


GET IN TOUCH


Christine Highland, 17 Larch Crescent, Tonbridge TN10 3NN. Studio visits welcome 01732 365194 or 07803 159723, email chighland@hotmail.co.uk




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