Making the Myths Map

Since February my working days have been pretty much filled with the Myths Map/Telling Tales project commissioned by English Heritage. My brief was to conceive and create artwork for an interactive map featuring myths, legends and folklore associated with selected E.H. sites. Working closely with Gravitywell, the Bristol-based digital agency charged with building the map, I’ve produced all its assets, including the English Heritage Myths Map logo through which the site is entered (see below), the map outlines, textures and topography, the settlements and the E.H. site icons.

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Below: George and the Dragon were built as paper maquettes and then scanned, digitally assembled and animated for the map logo

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Below: drawn elements used to create the settlements of the Myths Map

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Below: some of the many English Heritage site icons I produced for the map

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Animated elements for the map and sea surrounding it, were made by me and digitally animated by Gravitywell. There are deer and birds for the land, and assorted sea monsters for coastal zones.

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Below: Photo credit: © English Heritage/ Abi Bansal

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Below: Kraken maquette and ships

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Below: in the studio I roughly layered elements to guide the animators

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In addition to the map assets, I’m making animation maquettes for use in films being produced by English Heritage about some of the sites and the myths and legends associated with them. The first of these is St Hilda of Whitby, who founded Whitby Abbey and according to legend asked God’s help to clear the site of vipers so the building work could be carried out in safety.

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My attachment to the Telling Tales project extends to producing illustrations on the theme of Myths and Legends for English Heritage Magazine throughout the year, the first of which has been Saint George and the Dragon for the Spring edition.

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No project of this scale can get to completion without the cooperation and collaboration of many, and the Myths Map teams at English Heritage and Gravitywell were sterling throughout. Enthusiasm and appreciation were boundless at every stage, which made the experience a pleasure even when the hours were long and the ‘to-do’ lists were endless. As an artist much of what I do is solitary, but on Telling Tales the sense of work carried out in partnership with enthusiasts, has been the chief pleasure of the project. I’m so pleased it came my way, and my thanks to those who sought me out to play a part.

Click HERE to visit the Myths Map

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10 thoughts on “Making the Myths Map

  1. Wow, this post is full of delights Clive; the icon drawings are exquisite, and I’m intrigued by the digital assembly and animation of the various maquettes which have been beautifully brought to life.
    I’ve had a play with the map and it works a treat, it really does make me want to dive in and visit these places 😀

  2. Well now, a purely selfish delight.
    Since at present my physical mobility is rather snail-like (or not much more than creep), to journey with you to places remembered (and others never likely to be visited in ‘the real’ ), has been, and shall continue to be, a modern yet timeless ‘Box of Delights!’
    Thank you for this happiness.
    Love as ever
    B xxx

  3. Congratulations Clive! I am delighted to see you adding this latest chapter to your own unfolding story. The map you have made with Gravitywell truly is a wonder, and it does seem as if project and artist were made for each other. I am left marvelling at the amount of work that must have gone into making the map, and in such a short space of time!

    In the last few years, we have all been facing the challenges of living in a divided country, which deeply saddens me, and I feel that there is now a greater need than ever for storytellers to remind us of who we are, for the good, the bad and the ugly, and that we can recover. I like the notion that English Heritage has chosen a Welsh artist to tell the story of England, through its myths, legends and folklore, as it is a gentle reminder that these same stories exist, in different forms, all over the world, and in the end, despite the walls that people keep trying to build between us, we are all more alike, than we are different, which is a thought that will always give me hope.

    As I watched you telling your own tale in the English Heritage video, I was remembering that we first got to know each other at the time of your own ‘Telling Tales’ exhibition, back in 2014, and it was the ‘Telling Tales’ theme I later took to Dan Bugg at the Penfold Press, as an idea for a series of prints, when I came to you with the suggestion that the two of you should go on an adventure in printmaking together. We all know that the ‘Sir Gawain & the Green Knight’ series emerged triumphant from this collaboration, as you had the vision to trust your instincts and focus on telling one story in a big way, and with this masterstroke you became an irrevocable part of the storytelling tradition of our islands for me, as I’m sure people will still be looking at the images you made with Dan for hundreds of years to come.

    We talked, back in 2015, about your battles with staying true to who you are, which is an artist with a deeply literary sensibility, at a time when you felt that the art market seemed to be demanding you to be something else. With my background as a researcher of trends, I wrote to you citing the people I could see working in the fashion industry, like Tim Walker, the late Alexander McQueen, and Simon Costin, who are all, or were, wonderful contemporary practitioners of the great storytelling tradition we are talking about here. I then offered, as further evidence for my case, the enthusiastic response the three men’s body of work and passion projects, in the case of Costin’s Museum of British Folklore, receive, and how noticeable it was that this appreciation is coming from people of all ages. I told you then that I thought you should continue doing what you do, as I felt you were tapping into the zeitgeist, and that there was a wider and bigger audience out there for your art. I could already see how a broad cross section of people were responding to the powerful narrative quality of your work, when I first featured it at Pinterest, which has always been a valuable monitoring tool for a watcher and researcher like me.

    Neil MacGregor writes about a crucial element in the human psyche: the need to belong and to have a story, a narrative, not only as an individual but as a community, complete with legends and myths; and it was ever thus. I do like to believe that stories never really go away, but are there waiting for the time when the right person comes along, who is blessed with the gift of seeing and saying, to tell them in their own particular way, and then special things have a way of happening. I believe you to be one of these storytellers, and I find it uplifting that people who appreciate your distinctive gifts are now seeking you out more and more, so the moral of this tale is to keep trusting in what your instincts tell you to be, and good things will eventually find you. We should all remember to heed your example.

    Even though what I write here may be fanciful, as is my wont, what I do know is that, from when we first met, you have had the courage to not only seize an opportunity, but run with it, and there is no sign of you stopping yet, five years on! Watching your interview, it is evident that courage, self-belief and determination, which are all qualities an artist needs to complete their work, and put it out into the world, have been with you since childhood, and being in possession of these qualities, when combined with your boundless creativity, is a big reason, I’m sure, why the map of your own life is marked by so many interesting twists and turns. This is why I find it so fascinating to follow where your career takes you, as there is rarely a dull moment for me.

    As ever Clive, thank you for continuing to share your story with us, and I hope you are now going to be able to take at least a few days off to enjoy your latest success, and here’s to many more future successes, which I’m sure will soon be heading your way!

    • Hello Sarah.

      I didn’t go looking for this one, though when it was explained to me that Telling Tales was the title of the campaign, it felt as though the stars were aligning in ways to make me confident it was a project with my name on.

      The teams at EH and at Gravitywell have been a pleasure to work with. The deadline was occasionally a tad scary, yet here we are on launch day, and everything has been achieved on time. As for taking some time off, all I can say is that surely you know me better than that. Ha ha!

      Thank you for your good wishes, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Hansel & Gretel launch at the Artworkers Guild next month. Until then, xxx

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