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Posted 10.08.20

Illustration lecturer maps Plymouth with Take A Part and The Box

By Naomi Girdler

BA (Hons) Illustration lecturer at Plymouth College of Art, Bridgette Ashton, is working with Take a Part and The Box to creatively map Coxside and its residents’ histories in a project called ‘Coxside Cartographies’. Pairing up with artist Joanna Brinton, Bridgette’s work engages with The Box’s Mayflower 400 exhibition and its themes of identity, diversity and migration, as well as some of its collections.

‘Coxside Cartographies’ encourages members of the public and residents of Plymouth’s East End to engage in activities and initiatives that involve mapping their local area. Participants can download a PDF map from the project’s blog or The Box’s website and use it to plot routes and explore memories and stories of the area. Contributors can then upload their maps onto Instagram, using the hashtag #MappingHistories or email them to

‘Coxside Cartographies’ is made up of three stages; Gathering, Making and Sharing, taking ‘mapping’ to be the interrelationships of people, objects, experiences and time. The information gathered as well as the anecdotes, observations and objects that are created will be translated into a publication and map that can be accessed and used in Coxside, as well as remotely, to offer a multi-layered view of the place and people.

Memories of Coxside from a Plymouth resident - May 2020

Third-year BA (Hons) Illustration student Jess Holloway was one of Bridgette’s students who took part in the project. Based near Coxside, Jess felt filling in a map would be valuable to the project and wanted to contribute.

Jess said: “Bridgette did a call out to all the illustration students, asking if we could get involved in mapping Coxside. I live close to the area, although I had to check on a map of Plymouth at first as I wasn’t sure exactly where Coxside was at first!

“I found out a lot about the local wildlife. I noted where the cormorants sat - on an upturned boat with ‘Harbour Authority’ written down the side of it. There are a variety of fish swimming in the water and swans, Canadian geese and ducks that sit on it. I walked around a corner where on three occasions I came across different dead birds. I even saw a wharf roach, which I looked up when I got home. It looks a bit like a giant woodlouse!

“The project gave me a reason to explore and to cut down different paths, see what was there and where they intertwined. I found myself really appreciating the area. I’ve been longing to visit Dartmoor since lockdown began and have been missing the wildlife out on the moors. The project made me realise Coxside was brimming with life, full of the encounters and experiences I was longing for. It’s made me realise how much I should appreciate the here and now, and how beauty can be found in any corner.”

Bridgette Ashton said: “As artists with a relationship to Plymouth, but living outside of it, myself and Joanna Brinton wanted to find a way to learn more about Coxside’s past and present and its connections to the wider world through migration, work and trade. We’re working with local and regional communities including the Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council, Prince Rock School, Nomony Multicultural Toddlers Group and Coxside Residents Association, with the sites of Coxside’s historical porcelain factory and sugar refinery our starting point for considering the area’s history.”

"The project made me realise Coxside was brimming with life, full of the encounters and experiences I was longing for. It’s made me realise how much I should appreciate the here and now, and how beauty can be found in any corner.”
- Jess Holloway, BA (Hons) Illustration

Take A Part is a socially engaged arts organisation which uses art as a catalyst to address social justice issues. Since its inception, Take A Part has grown to support communities throughout Plymouth, with a purpose to engage, educate and inform new audiences in contemporary arts while developing policy and setting agendas for neighbourhood regeneration initiatives, contributing directly to the social infrastructure of the city.

The Box is Plymouth’s new £46 million cultural destination and will be the biggest cultural and heritage centre in the South West and will be reopening to the general public on 29 September. Based on a stones throw from our City Centre campus, it houses Plymouth’s most important heritage collections as well as boasting a programme of high profile exhibitions, artist commissions and events that run alongside the permanent gallery displays.