This was the first public showing of 'A Dot OnThe Map' a collaborative Art and New Technology works, linking schools, communities and individuals from all over Cumbria isolated by geography or disability.
These places - the Dots- included remote village schools, big Inner City schools, special schools, a youth club for the deaf and the singular house of Audrey Barker who instigated 'A Dot On The Map' (whoever crossed her threshold was invited to make artwork for the project).
Between January and April 1996 (the Year of the Visual Arts Uk/ Northern Region) Sal Wood, Harald Smykla and Geoffrey Stocker travelled from Dot to Dot to run workshops where Cumbrian school children (and some adults too) created artworks which celebrated the many diverse facets of their country.
Cumbria as a jigsaw puzzle
The mapping system
With the help of cardboard props, Sal and Harald introduced the idea of a large Mail Art map of Cumbria to the students.
Ordnance Survey maps covering the country (Landranger series nos 79, 80, 85, 86, 89-91, 96-98) had been photocopied on card (Crown copywrite C4/83/82) and cut up into 300 squares. These were given code numbers combining the OS number with Sal's and Harald's own grid system (eg. 90 H5 covers Ambleside) and grouped together into 12 areas allocated to the Dots. Each square got the address of the school/Dot which it belonged to stamped on its back.
This code system and the colour scheme used for the Dots and Dot areas were shown on the sketch map between the cardboard cut-outs of Great Britain and Cumbria.
For each map code number there was a corresponding raffle ticket number so that each participant could pick at random the map square to work on (except their own Dot area, which had been removed from the lottery draw beforehand).
Sal and Harald encouraged students to use the names or markings on their map as starting points for their collaged, drawn, printed or rubber stamped artworks, which would then become small puzzle pieces for the large art map of Cumbria.
After the workshops, these pieces were sent as individual postcards to the addresses stamped on the back. Through this country-wide postal exchange of artworks - thanks to the efficiency of the Royal Mail - each school/Dot gradually received their map pieces, which they put together and exhibited as their own Dot area map in the classroom/club room or home.
After the process had finished, the Dots sent the composite maps to Sal and Harald in London, who assembled them into The GCMAM (Giant Cumbria Mail Art Map). The GCMAM was the collective work of 300 people and was exhibited in the centre of the gallery space.
A selection of photos taken in - and outside the classrooms was also on display.
Workshop snaps and other pictures
The CD RoM
This was a virtual gallery showing artwork made for 'A Dot On The Map', showing the 12 map areas and information about individual works. For more detailed information it was possible to access what had happened in the classrooms or staffrooms. The CD RoM was produced by Paul Ramsey.
Alongside the mapmaking and evidence search, digital artist Geoffrey Stocker ran computer animation workshops, using an Amiga 1200 computer with Delux paint 5 graphics and animation software. Students had created 32 short animated clips and set personal school-related or local issues, experiences or ideas into motion. The CD RoM was distributed free to all schools in Cumbria and was not for sale. The package design reflected the Mail Art aspect of the work and was an integral part of the CD RoM.