The fun thing about art is that it resonates with people, makes them experience emotions and provokes thought. An artist’s recent map art of St. John’s downtown elicited many feelings from residents, particularly comprehension and weariness, as it ranked the neighborhood’s streets based on how difficult they were to deal with in winter, akin to a ski resort map.
Sophie Harrington’s map of the Canadian city ranks the downtown area’s streets on difficulty, as they usually end up slick with ice and frost during the cold winters. The setup is akin to map art used for ski maps, with green being the easiest, and the double black diamond being the hardest.
The artist, who is also a skier, stated that she based the difficulty on her experiences down slopes and dealing with the snowy roads in Newfoundland’s capital. She also stated that she’s not at all surprised that a lot of people in the region related to her art, as a lot of people in St. John dread seeing slick ice and snow covering the city’s streets at winter.
Since Harrington posted her art on social media during the last winter, she’s managed to sell prints of them to skiers, as well as local residents. Johnny Ruth, a boutique in Downtown St. John’s, also has stock prints of the design available.
Harrington says that the idea behind the map design was to tackle the issue of the city’s dangerous sidewalks in a lighthearted, creative way, with the hopes of getting people to talk about it. She says that the city shouldn’t be just for cars or the like. People should be able to walk in St. John’s, she says, and not just for one half of every year.
Her piece became fresh early in January 2020 as St. John’s got hit with a 40cm snow dump over the weekend, weeks following December’s bout of heavy snowfall.
According to St. John’s official city website, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador sees 355cm annually. The city has a $16mn annual budget set aside for snow and ice clearing, but this usually leads to snow getting shoved onto sidewalks for days, forcing people to walk on the roads.