(c) Geographers A to Z Map Company
On The Map @ Millennium Galleries
By Sophie Allen
From geographical maps to abstract manipulations, Sophie reviews an exhibition about the notion of mapping which was at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield until June 2008.
:: On the Map ran at Sheffield's Millennium Galleries until 15th June 2008
With a recent BBC survey putting the London Underground map second in a list of British design icons, it is clear maps hold a continuing fascination. On The Map, a new exhibition at the Millennium Galleries, looks at their enduring appeal and influence on the world of art and design.
(c) London Geographers Map Company
The exhibition plays tribute to another landmark in British mapmaking, Phyllis Pearsall's London A-Z, which revolutionised how we map our cities. Yet, On The Map doesn’t offer a history of cartography, instead presenting a diverse collection of artwork inspired by maps and the mapmaking process.
Stefanie Posavec takes as her landscape Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel 'On The Road'. By analysing its language structure, she effectively maps the text. Although the process brings to mind computer programmes designed to break novels down into lists of repeating words, Posavec's finished work shows how mapping is not just concerned with deconstruction.
In a piece entitled 'Literary Organism', each thematic strand appears as part of a flower, while the novel's 'rhythmic textures' are arranged as pulsating circles. Both works show that maps can be equally as vibrant and as beautiful as the things they represent.
How we map our own surroundings is another key theme of the exhibition, seen most strikingly in Paula Amaral's 'Private Landscape'. Amaral has produced a number of small maps that join together to form a detailed representation of her living space, right down to the carefully labelled washing up bottle next to the sink.
'Private Landscape' is concerned with how we unconsciously map the spaces that are important to us and attempt to compartmentalise the different aspects of our lives, just as the artist has divided her domestic space into distinct areas for different activities, such as working or dining.
(c) Pauline Burbride
Pauline Burbidge's 'Applecross Quilt' takes inspiration from Ordnance Survey maps of the Applecross region of northwest Scotland. Using abstract lines and shapes to represent geographical features such as rocks and pools, Burbidge's quilt presents an alternative map of the area, linked to her own emotional responses to the landscape.
Kerr & Noble's 'Rivermap' is also shaped around personal interpretations of geography. By arranging words from John Banck's 1783 poem 'A Description of London' to reflect the flow of the River Thames, the pair playfully reflect on the way we use our thoughts and feelings about certain places in order to chart our surroundings.
On The Map is a small exhibition that takes a fresh look at a familiar object. It not only shows the influence of maps as something both practical and beautiful, but also reminds us of the importance of the internal maps we all use to create order in our everyday lives.
:: On The Map was at the Millennium Galleries until 15th June, 2008
last updated: 16/06/2008 at 12:02