Mapping a return to whimsical cartography
Artist Stephen Walter's hand drawn maps of London go on display at Fenton House
The line between cartography and conceptualism was trodden regularly by mapmakers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who drew countries and cities in the shapes of animals, trees and people. In those days science and art were happy collaborators. But since a soberer (and more accurate) approach to delineating landscapes won out, maps became less aesthetically whimsical.
So it is nice to see a reprisal of whimsy by artist Stephen Walter whose exhibition “The Island” lands at Fenton House in London on Wednesday. Walter has taken a random, but not imprecise, route to mapping London in black ink on paper with incredible detail. His maps are full of famous buildings, street signs, logos, cars and rowing boats fashioned according to his own perceptions place and everyday signage.
Walter has extensively researched the semiotics of London, taking old source material and re-imagining them according to his own spin. The snaking path of the River Thames (above) is as recognisable in his work as it is in the EastEnders opening credits, but its dense surroundings are idiosyncratically portrayed. He outlines individual London boroughs in spidery shapes.
On the section marked "Homestead" (a play on Hampstead, where Fenton House is), the artist has written "POSH" and a speech bubble warns: "You must do things properly here or you will get complaints". Walter adds humorous touches throughout.
“A city’s ability to constantly reinvent itself, building on top of what was before, continually shifting its cultural identity has been a source of enduring fascination,” Walter said.
The exhibition will be the first contemporary art show ever held at the imposing National Trust owned 17th century merchant’s dwelling Fenton House in Hampstead.
Stephen Walter – The Island: London series is at Fenton House from 5-30 October 2011
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board and takes four gongs
The Apprentice 2014, episode 3, review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Channel 5 gives Big Brother the cold shoulder
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'