A Turkish map fold artists' book

Published on 25 April 2023 at 11:48

Some places are more meaningful than others

On a recent visit to our annual local maker’s festival  I was drawn to a group of women demonstrating the Turkish map fold.  Perfect - I wanted to make a book focused on place for my (forty nine years is) Seven Times Seven project.  

I had already been thinking about locations that are meaningful to me and had been collecting old maps to represent these.  Finding the maps second hand was important to me for my intention to ‘Use salvaged, discarded and second hand materials‘ rather than buying new. I also prefer the aesthetic of used – the odd smudge, crease or sign of use adding an extra layer of history to the work. 

In a very literal way this book relates to identity, place and time I made this piece to mark locations that have been meaningful to me over my life. I haven’t moved around much, I didn’t go away to university as I dropped out of college and started working when I was 17. I ended up staying in the county I lived in since I was 3 because I had a baby at 21, and although I later separated from his dad I ended up in some way trapped in the place I was. At times this has bothered me, I’ve been in the South East of England all my life, I didn’t go travelling, or live in a different country (or even a different county). I think it is something I have felt ashamed of and so making this is an acknowledgement to that I may have been located in what feels like a very confined area but that it’s OK. This isn’t something I would have felt comfortable sharing but as I grow older there is more acceptance around how things have turned out.

I carried out some experimentation before making the book as I wanted to scale up from the small pages I had made previously and be able to join seven of them together.  I worked out that each sheet would need to be fairly thick if I wanted the folds to stay in place when I opened the whole thing out to form the sculptural element. With a selection of different types of map some of them were thinner than others and to further complicate things I also wanted them to all be double sided. I set about preparing my 7 pages to ensure they met my requirements. I used the same tape I have used elsewhere in the project to bind the pages. I am enjoying finding ways I can link the different pieces of work together through small elements like this. I find something about this image very pleasing!

Next I folded each sheet to create 7 individual Turkish maps. I have tried to find something about the history of these and their name but could only find information about how to fold them. I’m going to assume they were used as maps and it originated in Turkey – they are one of the more practical folds that I have tried as the pages can be completely opened up and laid flat which would make them a good way of folding something like a map.

Once I had my 7 folded pieces I put them into order (roughly chronological) and glued them together. I kept checking that they were standing up as I went along but still couldn’t be 100% sure it would work once they were all together but, phew it did! Next, to mark the meaningful locations more accurately.  I chose to write a very short piece around memory for each place using the project constraint of seven words.  After a bit of thought I stumbled across a method of getting the text onto the maps (I have since used this over and over again).  I typed the text I wanted into a Word document, stuck a piece of masking tape to my laptop screen and traced over it*.  The tape could then be stuck to the appropriate place on the map marking the location whilst allowing the map underneath to still show through.  

*Do not use a Sharpie if you try this at home.  I traced something else with one a while ago and still have a couple of annoying black marks on my screen! 

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