Cartography, in general, requires a degree of artistic licence. Drawing the shape and features of the Earth’s surface on a map is arguably less about creating an exact replica of it than about creating a useful tool by which to navigate it.
The practicalities of navigation have been abandoned in favour of rendering a personal perception of familiar space at an exhibition of hand-drawn maps opening this week at the Museum of London, taking the artistic licence in mapping a degree further.
The 11 hand-drawn maps of London made by the public are based not on geography but on individual experiences and perceptions. They provide quirky and unique snapshots of the worlds inhabited by each draughtsman.
The narratives range from an amusing portrayal of London’s public toilets and an illustration of Brixton, under the guise of a tree, to the superimposition of the nineteenth-century Kensington Hippodrome on to present day Ladbroke Grove.
Harriet McDougall, one of the cartographers and a New Cross resident and former “country bumpkin”, said: “I would like my map to help people see beyond the grey scruffiness of New Cross to the charm and warmth beneath it.”
“Places are too often dismissed at face value, but if you get under its skin to some of its secrets, stories and history it's easy to find the good.”
‘Hand-drawn London’ is at the Museum of London from 21 April until 11 September 2011, museumoflondon.org.uk