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Shipsides and Beggs Projects - Starmaps: Borderlands


LondonderryLondonderryStrabaneStrabaneLough AllenLough AllenLower Lough ErneLower Lough ErneEnniskillenEnniskillenUpper Lough ErneUpper Lough ErneArmaghArmaghMonaghan-KeadyMonaghan-KeadyMournesMournes

Starmaps: Borderlands
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
9 folded painted OS maps covering the ROI / UK border

A full set of nine starmaps created in direct relation to the terrain of the contested border which splits the Republic of Ireland (Europe) and Northern Ireland (UK). The starmaps – as a conceptual work, are a body of work which originate in Neal’s individual practice from 2005-6 (see Neal's commentary video below). But we felt that a full series of nine ROI and NI border starmaps (which were made up of all the terrain which makes up the border terrain) would make lot of sense for the Another Fine Mess project. So, we agreed that Dan would take a lead on making this series. We did this out of practicality and out of an interest in dissolving ownership and the displacing the authority of the original or unique single artist.

So, Dan studied Neal’s finely-honed technique and then developed his own method from that knowledge. So, in this respect the end result of these is different from Neal’s starmaps – different not better, just different - and with a slightly differently feel and look. Dan’s approach was to mask out the contoured summits or high points as indicated on the map – masking the full area of the contour – so there is much variation in the star size. Then the maps are sprayed with many light layers of paint. Dan also cut off and removed unrequired information (e.g. the key – as that would no longer function as the terrestrial is turned to the celestial), re-worked the cover page (so it just identified the area of the map) and then reconstructed the maps. Neal’s approach identified each summit and treated each of those as pin-pointed stars – resulting in a much tighter set of star sizes. He also kept the associated terrestrial information and cover pages as a way to more texturally identify the original landscape.

The process of making the starmaps essentially is one which turns an ordinance survey (elevation contoured) map into a constellation by imagining and treating each high point or summit as a star. This poetic gesture taps into many ideas throughout culture – ideas of the dead being represented by stars in the sky (sailors, soldiers, climbers), the fact that the summits are the closest land-borne point we can be to the stars. The spiritual and religious concerns regarding look to the skies form divinity or wisdom. The value-laden association of high points within culture forms and thinking. What’s interesting here is that it is not only the high mountain summits that feature here - it is any terrain that identified as a point higher than its surroundings – so it could be a small hillock in a field, a dune on sandbank or a drumlin (of which there are many in this territory) – in this sense a kind of levelling or democracy is renders as the humble is celebrated as much as the proud and prominent.

Another version of these maps have also been created which only render a zonal borderland area, or banded area of the border – as stars. This work is called Tear in the Fabric - Dálriata and is intended to be an installed work featuring 13 maps (4 additional maps are required to cover the overlapping areas).

The folded maps placed in their relative position to the border. 2020.


Neal's commentary video from 2016, discussing the production of the starmaps in his practice.


It is relevant to say how the star motif has appeared in our individual and collective practice for many years - so these works are also a part of that body of interest:

Such works include:

Summit Stars 2013 (Ongoing landscape interventions)
YUPA STAR detail YUPA STAR - some kind of memorial - 2012 (SBP Video installation)
Three Points Down to Zero 2017 (HD video animation)
Bivacco plaque Bivacco | Star 2011 (Sculptural intervention, video and objects)
6 Star 2010/2011 (Sculptural intervention)
Mortar | Device video MORTAR | DEVICE 2011 (HD Video 2min)

Evilsport 2012 (interactive magazine collection and reading table)