Map Hack 24hr Workshop

Map Hack 24hr Workshop Time-lapse from Circuit Cambs on Vimeo.

Hi, my name’s Josh, I’ve been a Circuit member for around 5 months, I joined after after taking some time out after my degree in Illustration. One of the first projects I got really involved with was the ‘Map Hack’ project. This project provide so many fantastic opportunities and challenges, reviewing and thinking back over the whole process really reveals how much I learnt and how exciting it was. Below are some of general thoughts on it.

A description of map hack project:

The project was intended to be an accessible and simple way for members of the public (particularly 15-25 year olds with less experience participating in organised artistic/ creative projects) to engage with and comment on their relationship with an aspect of the city of Cambridge through creative mapmaking / map alteration. There were two types of participants we were looking for; those already creatively engaged with a practice / study and those who wanted to get casually involved and who didn’t consider themselves artist.

This was my initial workshop plan - this changed a bit as I changed my thinking of who our audience could be.

This was my initial workshop plan – this changed a bit as I changed my thinking of who our audience could be.

Background of the Idea:

Soon after joining the Circuit program I attended a meeting in which we were discussing the possibility of putting on an event to coincide with a making a publication; our response to the Curating Cambridge season of exhibitions, talks and events.

My suggestion was a 24 hr creation event whereby the participants make use of a full day in which to create a set number of artistic pieces, eg- comics pages, illustrations, paintings, sculptures, photographs etc. I had previously experience this formatted ‘workshop’ during my BA in Illustration in Falmouth constructing a 24 page comic. ( I only managed 16)

The rest of the group seemed to be keen on the idea so it was timetabled for the next week’s planning session. Myself and Sam signed up to lead/co lead the organisation of the project. It was decided to link the 24 hour workshop to Curating Cambridge. The medium of cartography was suggested as a kind of form to structure the project. The afternoon part of the 24hrs took place at Kettle’ sYard, and the evening/morning stretch took place at Wysing.

Initial draft of the poster

Initial draft of the poster



The final poster

The final poster

 Things we could change:

– marketing and promotion ( more time, more direct contact with other groups and organisation who work with our target audience)
– geographical location ( more central in Cambridge, where ‘foot felled’ participants could be increased)
– choose a different dates ( the date was close to Christmas, and on the same day as a popular Christmas related event in Cambridge ( mill road festival)
– finish the preparation before the start of the event ( although it was actually quite fun, the 512 screws that we affixed did eat up a bit of time)
– higher participation of target audience ( we were disappointed by the number of young people who come along who weren’t already part of the Circuit group)
– have two events instead of one ( the 24hour element to the map seems in hindsight like an added extra)

Building up layers of stories

Building up layers of stories

Things that worked well:

– I think the basic idea is still sound
– the physical large scale map mounted on boards was a successful negotiation between the ‘on paper’ ideal and the practical ( it functioned successfully)
– the poster/ branding ( feedback from the group and staff at Kettle’s Yard was positive over all)
– collaboration with an artist ( Eleanor Cologni brought a level of focus and expertise, challenging the group for clarity of vision and really helped make it happen)



– the most substantial change to the project I would make would be divide it into two: The 24 postcard challenge and large scale maps. Both are events in their own right.
– commitment to vision, putting time and energy into the project consistently throughout, not only at the beginning.
– one of the most important parts of putting on a event is promotion: a) telling people it exists, b) telling people what it is, c) making it appealing to the right audience. This needs lots of time.
– people are important when working on a project – enthusiasm about the potential and promise of the project and the arts in general. No matter how simple or ambitious a project is bound to be unsuccessful if the desire, commitment and belief to not only the specific project but also in the universal powerful transformative power that creative activity can provide is missing or misplaced.

Sleepy heads - quite far into the 24hrs!

Sleepy heads – quite far into the 24hrs!

One final comment: I’m really grateful generally that Circuit exists for all the wonderful opportunities, contacts, experiences, energy and friends its provided me and other people in the same boat trying to make a go doing creative stuff. I’m looking forward to being able to develop ‘map hack’ and try and take it one of the festivals happening in Cambridge over the summer.

Cheers, Josh