North and south London may only be separated by a thin stretch of mud-brown water, but the two sides pulsate with different personalities, traceable right down to the north and south banks of the River Thames with their different vistas, atmospheres and landmarks. Now these two rivals have been rendered in extraordinary detail by the New York-based Milanese master of illustration, Matteo Pericoli, whose jaw-droping 11-metre long London Unfurled is one of the most remarkable things we have seen in a long while.
Matteo’s new project is the latest in a career which has seen him become the king of the cityscape, having already produced Manhattan Unfurled, The City Out of My Window: 63 Views on New York and the 397 ft long mural at NYC’s JFK airport, called Skyline of the World.
In his elegant afterword to the book, Matteo reflects on the strange relationship between the two sides of the river: “Like two magnets, the riverbanks have been rejecting and attracting each other for ever.”
He admits he still might know the city – not really – and yet he would dream about the north and south banks of the Thames as he grappled with capturing their characters. But capture them he did – this is no dry, clinical study of buildings but a creation that distills down the spirit of its subjects.
The book also comes with essays by authors/pyschogeographers Will Self and Iain Sinclair, who produce worthy prose accompaniments to Matteo’s drool-worthy drawing.