Mapping Deptford

BringTheHappyMap.Image4.MarkNewtonInvisible Flock along with band Hope & Social are asking anyone who has experienced happy moments in South East London to come along to Deptford Lounge and map their stories until this Friday 5 September. The stories will inspire the live performance of Bring the Happy next week from Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 September, 7.30pm. Catherine Baxendale of Invisible Flock shares the happy memories she has experienced in Deptford and why mapping here is so special:

Deptford is personal to me, for many reasons and a mountain of memories. It is also the last date on an epic tour of the project punctuating thousands of people and memories from across the UK. Although there a number of things I can talk about as we start the final week of collecting memories I am going to describe how the project related to me today.

I lived in the area on the Deptford maps from 2004 to 2011.

Residing in a total of 6 homes.

Completing 1 degree.

Meeting and marrying 1 man.

Giving birth to 2 children.

All equating to many, many days filled with amazing times, hard times, frustrating times, joyful times, delirious times and so on.

The maps at Deptford Lounge could be filled with a thousand memories from my little world alone, experienced in this place over 7 years of making it my home.

For the first time I can understand the depth of feeling that is achieved when you see a landscape you have inhabited in this way laid out in front of you with the invitation to talk about what made you happy there and why.

It is something that you can’t quite grasp fully when you look at the landscape on the digital map, the virtual barrier viewing a space through the screen dilutes the intensity. Much like the surreal feeling you get when you hop along a road on street view. You see the pavements you walk across each day but it isn’t the same pavement, it is one captured in time a few years before, a moment dictated by a camera clicking photos as it drives along the street. You see the pavement represented through the eyes of a lens, a lens that removes you and gives you anonymity.

Anonymity and distance is a useful feeling when you submit a memory onto the digital map, it reduces self conscious conflict that might prevent you from revealing something personal that although it is likely you have shared before you might not have done so publicly.

But in the swift transaction between a memory number being allocated to you and this identification transferring onto a physical rod glued onto a physical map something very quickly changes. I am now represented by the rod on the map, I have left a mark on a place that I now retain additional ownership over. This is the place where I once was, where something happened that meant something to me.

Landscapes so quickly change, buildings, shapes and surfaces disappear and new ones replace them, I cannot lay stake to any corner of the world, not really, no matter how much I emotionally invest in it but I am reminded that my memories of my footsteps can remain, echoing silently down the streets.

I am left in awe of all the people represented by glass rods on the Deptford maps – how interesting they are, how human and how complex, filling landscapes with everything they do in the days, weeks and years that came before and will come after. I think what I am describing is a sense of place in history and time, something that the act of sharing through contributing a memory makes you acutely aware of.

Experiencing the live show in two weeks time I expect another shift in this perspective on time and place. I think that hearing your memory adjacent to another, pulled off the maps and presented in a celebratory space, will broaden out this ownership over place into a wider context, one that is shared with everyone in the room but also disseminates onto a national and soon to be international scale.

Either way I know I will be in floods of tears watching the show – it always makes me cry, cry in a good way, especially the happy bits – but this time it won’t just be tears of empathy as I relate the memories from other peoples lives to my own experiences, it will be because Deptford is real for me, it is a place where my life has happened and I will be crying for all of the moments and people that inhabit these memories, memories made real because I shared them and gave them back to the landscape.

Catherine Baxendale, Company Director, Invisible Flock

Bring the Happy mapping takes place at Deptford Lounge until Friday 5 September and is free. For the opening times, click here. If you cannot attend the mapping on-site, then please contribute your stories online here.

The live performances of Bring the Happy take place at the Albany on Thursday 11 to Saturday 13 September, to find out more and to book, click here.

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