Artist Mark Andrew Webber's vast graphic map of Berlin

By Keith Doyle
BBC News

image copyrightKeith Doyle - BBC
image captionMark Andrew Webber's work draws on typefaces typically found in Berlin

When artist Mark Andrew Webber spent months walking the streets of Berlin, he wasn't sightseeing - he was sign seeing.

The artist from Reading has made a name for himself creating intricate city maps made up entirely of names of streets and areas, using the typeface he spotted while exploring them.

His latest and largest work is a massive 22 sq m map, meticulously and laboriously cut from lino.

Creating the map meant six months and hundreds of hours of delicate and complex carving. Every tiny detail was carved into the lino; one small mistake could have wrecked everything.

The multitude of typefaces are copied from actual signs he spotted - restaurant names, street signs, posters, anything that had print on it.

"The typography is uniquely German, uniquely Berliner," says Webber.

The huge map is on display at his first solo exhibition in Shoreditch. But it's not an exhibition where the art is behind glass.

image copyrightKeith Doyle - BBC
image captionThe artist's typographical map was created over hundreds of hours

It is on the floor allowing people to see up close the levels of detail and craftsmanship that have gone into its creation.

There are also some of Webber's previous works, smaller but no less beguiling maps of Paris, Amsterdam, New York and London.

"It's not just an exhibition, it's an experiment in progress," says the artist. "I want people to come in and help me make prints of this map. It's huge, I could do with the help!"

Webber says he is often asked how he has the mental capacity to work for so long with so much concentration.

"People ask me how I have the patience to do this but I just I get lost in the detail, the time just flies by.

"I like being able to work in detail. It's obsessive I know, but I love it."

The fact that Webber can carry out such labour intensive work is another amazing feat. He was diagnosed with juvenile chronic arthritis at the age of 12.

At times throughout his teenage years he could barely move.

The condition affects almost every bone in his body, causing swelling and extreme pain. He endured years of medication and therapy but his love of art saw him through.

The treatment means his arthritis was brought under control enough to enable him to go to art college to study graphic design.

"The arthritis affects all my joints. My hands hurt all the time but a combination of medication and loving working helps me just get on with it and ignore it," he says.

"I decided a long time ago I would not let arthritis prevent me from doing what I love."

He says the uncertainty in his life has often left him feeling lost but that he turns that around and uses it for inspiration.

image copyrightThe Future Tense
image captionWebber has also created maps for London (pictured), New York, Paris and Amsterdam

"I can get lost wandering the streets to research my maps or be feeling lost inside. Rather than fear it gives me a sense of awe, it calms me down."

He is now asking the public to help make prints of the huge map at the exhibition in Shoreditch by joining him to help ink the map and press the paper to make prints.

People are welcome to join in making the maps over the weekend - and they may just discover more than Berlin.

"I want people to become actively involved in this. I want them to love it as much as I do," says the artist.

Wonderlust exhibition is on at the Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London until 10 August

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