Dialectograms depict places that are marginal, under threat or disappeared. They borrow elements from ethnography, psychogeography and graphic art to depict the relationship we have with place, and each other. Over an extensive period of fieldwork the people of that place are encouraged to work with me and share in the process of depicting their environment.
When it comes time to draw, I start with a floor or ground plan then fill this ‘shell’ with its soft centre, the furniture, objects, people and the stories that accrue there. I visit the site many times, speak to everyone who is willing, record environmental details and collect stories. These stories become the labels that explain what the place is.
I stick to a fairly limited set of tools; black ink, occasional colour on A0 mount-board. I usually draw and add layers of detail until I have to stop, or can’t go any further. The original of the drawing is then installed somewhere appropriate to the subject matter – ideally in the location itself. Reproductions of the Dialectograms have been engraved onto wood, reproduced as weatherproof signs, made into vinyl decals, display tables, digitised for websites and printed as fold out posters.
I coined the term dialectogram to describe the perspective of the drawings; made from the ground up, with the people who make the place what it is, in their own words and way of speaking. Their vernacular visual language is to diagrams what demotic speech is to Received Pronunciation – hence ‘dialect-ogram’.
Browse the gallery below to view each dialectogram in detail >