Monthly Archives: November 2010

Mapping out a new perspectice on Wales

Last week I was thinking about the importance of images to tell a story. This week, thanks to a trip Aberystwyth and a major train incident outside of Welshpool, my attention has turned to the role of maps.

I’ve never been keen on mapping my travels. My experience of compiling maps for a certain leading guidebook publisher has seen to that.

Small World

But a visit to Small World, a new exhibition about the history of travel in Wales at the National Library of Wales, cast the importance of mapping to our understanding of Wales in a new light.

It shows how travel in Wales developed hand in hand with the early artistic movement and the first wave of industrialisation.

You can read about the exhibition from the Library’s blog here.

Map Addict

Having taken in the exhibition by day, I stayed on that night for a talk by Mike Parker, whose book Neighbours From Hall? is published by local imprint, Y Lolfla.

Parker highlighted how maps are used as a propaganda tool, citing the Readers’ Digest Atlas of Places of Notable Birth (1965) as the “UKIP map of Britain.”

By showing us a series of maps through the ages, we saw how the Welsh language, culture and political influence was denigrated by early cartographers – ever since the first ever map of Wales, dating from 1573.

But as Welsh pride and identity has flourished, so has its depiction in maps from around the world. Maps, it seems, are a sure-fire way to enforce national stereotypes, but also a means to bolster national pride.

Video blog

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Finally, want to know the best map of Wales according to self-confessed map addict, Mike Parker?

The National Milk Bar chain’s map, highlighting their branches across Wales.

It’s a little bit of hiraeth we’ll return to another time.

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A picture is worth 1,000 words

Sometimes there are too many words. As any writer who works regularly with photographers will tell you, pictures sometimes speak louder than words.

Having spent my time at World Travel Market thinking about how many words I can generate from commissioned stories in 2011, I found myself this week at the World Press Photo exhibition thinking about how redundant many of them are.

It’s a perfect example of the way – no matter how purple my prose – visual impact is vital for storytelling.

Hit the North was intrigued to see that the region we celebrate made the final cut with Simon Roberts taking third prize in the Daily Life Stories category for an image of Ladies’ Day at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.

It combines perfectly the glamour, pathos and underlying violence of the event.

My favourite image, however, was  by Michael Wolf of Germany in the Daily Life Singles category. His image of a woman travelling at rush hour on the Tokyo underground was both haunting and beautiful.

As I plan my next year of assignments over the weeks up to Christmas, this exhibition will inspire me to think more visually.

For a full list of this year’s winners, see the link here.



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World Travel Market

Hit the North will be tied up this coming week at World Travel Market.
If you’re going and you’ve got a lead or angle on a story you think – based on reading this blog – would be of interest, then please contact me.
I’m at the show Mon and Tues 8-9 November.

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