If you’ve ever tried to draw a quick diagram for someone of how to get so somewhere close by, you’ll appreciate A) How hard it is to get things into proportion and B) The importance of words and symbols to help you along when spacial awareness fails you. Stephen Walter is a contemporary cartographer who spends his time creating maps that devour any meat off the bones of the city before regurgitating them back up again in the form of a ludicrously intricate tangle of illustration.
In the five foot-long map entitled The Island, we see all 33 glorious boroughs of London, illustrated in minute detail with a trusty pencil. A closer inspection reveals that what looks like tiny buildings and winding streets are actually words and sentences stringed together, forming stories, quotes and quintessential features of the city that Stephen has collected along his journey. These myths and legends that are, essentially, the foundations of London’s history are the driving force behind Stephen’s work, and will be revealed in more detail at his upcoming conversation with Will Self and Robert Elms at the London Transport Museum this October. There’s no doubt that the conversation the three of them willhave on the subject of “Subterranean London” will be one of the most interesting and revealing events this year, so if you can get hold of tickets – go!