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Creative map competition

Oxford – My Treasure Island Finalists Announced!

Whether it’s JRR Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth or Lyra’s map in His Dark Materials, Oxford’s famous real and literary residents have always delighted in creating maps to highlight their favourite spots in the city.

In 2020 as Summer turned to Autumn we set a challenge to Oxford residents and visitors alike. The challenge was to tell your story of Oxford city by creating your own illustrated map that features your favourite landmarks, and moments in time.

The variety and creativity of the entries was truly inspirational. All kinds of formats were submitted from traditional pencil to fabric to videos and 3d. Some came with explanations some didn’t. The judge’s task was a tough one!

Here are the results and congratulations to everyone who took part.

Adult  Category:

1st Prize – Thomas Romailler “A Map for Strollers”

Description by Thomas Romailler

the purpose of most maps is to find direct ways in unknown places, I tried to
design mine as an ode to wandering.

Indeed, the map is both overly precise, as I endeavoured to draw almost every house and
building of the city centre, and vague, as streets appear without names and the
proportions of buildings are played with.

I listed as my favourite spots / activities / events the ones I would recommend
to a newcomer in the city. But they are not placed with precision either.

By doing so, I dream that anyone who would use this map would need to look up to
the architectural wonders in the city instead of searching for street names;
talk to locals for more details about the places listed instead of keeping
their searches to themselves – and simply fall in love with our city by
wandering its streets.

The houses and buildings have been drawn by hand with pencil and ink. I hope that
people most familiar with the city will be able to identify their favourite
landmark, whether historical or personal.

I have listed as my favourite spots / activities /
events that I would recommend to a
newcomer, they are the following:

Univeristy Parks; Little Clarendon Street; The Museum of Natural History; The Canal; The
Ashmolean; Holywell Street; Holywell Cemetery; Gloucester Green Market; Duke
Humfrey’s Library; New College Cloisters; The Train Station; The Covered
Market; May Morning; Modern Art Oxford; The Botanic Garden; Christ Church Hall;
Punting on the Cherwell; and Rowing on the Isis.


Runner up – Hermeet Gill “and Stop and Look”

Description by Hermeet Gill:

This map was created in response to Rediscover Oxford’s prompt to create a map to highlight my favourite things about Oxford City Centre.

In truth, there are so many things that are highlights in this wonderful city, some world-famous; others, attachments to tiny, easily overlooked details and quiet hidden away places. However, one of my favourite things about Oxford is also the way to discover these places and make them, and the city, your own, and that is how to just BE in the city. Walking and cycling are both ways to allow the city to slowly unravel itself around you as you move through it, the pace slow enough for you to see the architecture, the people, the gardens, the vistas, the trees and the small details. On a bike or walking, you can breathe the air and smell the city, feel the breeze and the sun on your skin and hear the sounds that surround you in this unique, magical place.

Maps have many purposes. This map is intended to be a love letter to my home city. But it is also a wish for the future. A map that is, just a little bit, about activism. The truth is the city could be safer, with less traffic and cleaner air, for those who would like to walk or cycle around it. So, while it may be unpopular, controversial, perhaps foolish to say so in this context, this love, of cycling and walking around Oxford, isn’t perfect. It’s frequently unhealthy and often dangerous, particularly for those who are vulnerable. And perhaps it’s also a recognition that there are many people who are hopeful of making things better, to celebrate their efforts, and to add my voice to theirs.

Runner up – Emily Hilbourne “A Starry Night”

Description by Emily Hilbourne

Emily Hilbourne, Runner up – Local Oxford artist had this to say about her entriy: The inspiration behind my map is based on my relationship with my boyfriend Bryan, who I met in Oxford 3 years ago while studying here. The map features places that have the most meaning to us, as they are the places we have explored together (although I couldn’t fit all of them on!

Under 12’s Category:

1st Prize – Mark Garrick (age 11)


Runner up –  Toby Hills (age 5)

Runner up – Adele Abate (age 11) 


Special mention to Dotty Clay’s “Oxford Mysteries”

We’d also like to give a special mention to  Dotty Clay for their video entry that takes us on an extraordinary journey.

Click HERE to watch

Description by Dotty Clay

The video took many days to make despite its brevity – the scans are all made by myself using an App called TRNIO – I would love to expand this project and get people to submit their own scans of favourite oxford places and objects so we could make a fuller 3D world for people to co-create and explore.

I had much assistance from my friend Zlata Ponirovskaya; the looming Goddess is Maya Buzaljko my long time partner and muse.

Accompanying poem by Dotty Clay

My melting city peachy pink is so pretty in the evening sun

This Wonderland is full of grand buildings carved sandstone curly columns : grinning  gargoyles

There are so many hidden places hidden faces secret mazes of underground shelves

Here elves got a new life gained height became a race gained a language and a history

There are so many mysteries its ancient energy is 2000-year-old yew tree in Iffley

Here was Alice born here she fell down a hole through a mirror became a meme a cypher  chasing rabbits and munching mushrooms

Here there were dragons fighting in the air and burying them selves in the ground in Saint Clements church yard now a roundabout where we once held reclaim love and dance to 60s sounds on Valentine’s Day

This town this town drags down and lifts us up with its mayday Meadows of buttercups it’s spires it’s weeping willows and Jewish burial grounds

The autumn maples of Gloucester Green run riot in yellow and red it’s paving hiding pits of mediaeval dead new apartments replace squalid houses were once a cow driven to the cattle market ran into an open door run up the Stairs and fell through the floor onto the dining room table instead

Magpie Lane logic Lane pussy Street Canal Street the walls of Jericho have tumbled down but ask around and you will find crinkled faces light up and old eyes twinkle with saucy tales of secret lasts and loves long lost in this our Oxford my home town

A huge thank you to our judges.

We’d like to finish by saying a big thank you to our judges for having to go through just an agonising process to find the winners amongst such a high standard of entries. Thank you  Nick Millea (Bodleian Library’s Map Librarian), Cllr Mary Clarkson (Cabinet member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture), and Broad Canvas’ Neil Jury (Art Teacher and professional Artist).


We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Fusion Arts

Their enthusiasm for this competition was inspiring and their help with getting the word out there was crucial. Thank you!

If you’ve enjoyed this we recommend you check out Fusion Arts. www.fusion-arts.org


Above is the boundary that was used as a guide for the entries.
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