The idea for a giant map on the floor of St Mary’s came when we were discussing ideas around the exhibition space with Rev Steve and another trustee, Emily Price. We were full of ideas – we would have a giant screen, a huge wooden wish tree (I still love this idea), a free-standing, stained glass panel of modern Totnes (also still love this idea), but it was the giant map that really caught on.
I’ve been stopped by quite a few visitors in town asking where this and that and the castle are. Most residents have. The town maps we do have displayed are lovely but worn and out of date. We’d been discussing as a council, how we would get new ones and so the idea was fresh in my mind. The original thought was to have a great slate floor with a map inscribed into it, but that, of course, turned out to be too costly and as we wanted it to be very detailed that was going to be tricky in slate. The exhibition designer suggested polished black linoleum, which sounded perfect.
We as a trust, are trying to raise an enormous sum of money to repair St Mary’s. We don’t only want to repair it, we want to add a toilet and a kitchen and make it a wonderful resource in the centre of town. It should be, it’s a beautiful building and we lack community space in Totnes. I am not a church-goer myself, but I am fully behind restoring this gorgeous building and opening it up to the wider community. We are planning on making it an exhibition space, a theatre, a place for community gathering. This doesn’t mean it won’t continue as a church; of course, it will, we just want to really make it accessible as an asset to everyone.
The map will contribute to this. It’ll be huge, 15 square meters and situated at the back of the church by the back door. It’ll stretch from St Johns in Bridgetown to the Bay Horse in Totnes. We have chosen an artist, Anna Ventura, whose details I was sent by someone on Facebook when I asked for suggestions. She runs a gallery in Kingsbridge, The Tidal Gallery and is expert at very detailed line drawings. She’d done a drawing on the High St a few years ago and the style was just what we wanted. How to pay for all this though?
We are a charity, we were supposed to be making money, not spending it, so we decided to ask the shops lining the route of the map if they would like to be specially featured and if they decided to, then that meant their names would be added to the drawing and some details of their shops etc. In that way, we have managed to pay the artist. I wanted it to be a snapshot of Totnes in 2018/19, so we were going to add some extra details; Christopher McCabe fighting his way out of his freezer with a black pudding, Graham Walker selling his Scum Bags on the High Street, XR doing a die in on the market? We will be asking for ideas from everyone soon.
Anna is displaying some of her preliminary drawings of the map in the church for the next two weeks, so it would be great if people could come and comment. I will also be photographing every building pretty much from St John’s to the Bay, so if you have any particular stories about any of the buildings, which you would like to let us know about then that would be wonderful.