Water Map was a year-long project by Borth artist, illustrator and surfer Boz Groden. His intention was to create what he describes as a “visual record of a community ‘psychogeography’ of water in the area” – a map of “water experience” – through a participtory process of exploring its “value, threat and future use to ourselves and others”.
While the final product was a lavishly illustrated map, a significant aspect of the work was its process; what Boz describes as “sketchbook interactions”. Taking his sketchbook on regular walks round Borth village and beach he found a means to engage with others – locals and visitors, surfers, dog-walkers, artists – and record their responses and reactions to water in real-time drawings and notes. The randomness of the encounter was key to this process:
“I try to always have a pad with me, so random conversation can be recorded. Catching people 'on the hop' seems to work well sometimes; they don't overthink their reaction.” – Boz.
Humour was also a significant component of the process and resulting work since it not only provides, as Boz describes, an accessible way of “connect[ing] with people who may find recieved notions of fine art and academic discussion irrelevant to their lives” but can also be a way for people “relax around themes [such as coastal flooding and climate change] that can be terrifying and so big in scale they struggle to comprehend them”.
An important aspect of the Water Map was the ability of the cartoon format Boz employs to show the complications of our very personal attitudes to water: allowing multiple, even contradictory, perspectives – “attitudes and stories concerning death, drug use and ignorance, as well as appreciation and joy” – to coexist on the page. As he writes, this is the power of “the simplicity of graphic art [to] deal with some difficult experiences.”
‘[Boz] is a very inclusive artist, who creates meaningful, quirky, yet accessible work which invariably provokes a response and even heated debates. Humour and satire may initially distract (or lure) the observer, who might then realise that there are very weighty themes to take on board.’ – Sara Penrhyn Jones.
ARTWORK(S) & DOCUMENTATION
An interview with Boz Groden by Sara Penrhyn Jones: A Surfer/Artist perspective on Hydrocitizenship.
Boz’s blogs about his process:
Sketchbook interactions around water in Borth
(Blogs are also available as PDFs below)
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Boz describes his art as ‘a combination of humour and conventional illustration techniques, that often deal with the conflict and hypocrisy of our worldview and institutions. I am particularly interested in the idea of psychogeography, the visual representation of people’s concept of a landscape, rather than the surface reality’. His work can be accessed via the Boz Groden Art Facebook page.