Stephen Walter’s map shows Greater London in 2008. Incorporating the thirty-two London boroughs and commuter belt, the sprawling metropolis is rendered in impressive detail. The map’s title, The Island, refers to the perception of London as culturally distinct from the rest of the UK, while also alluding to the fact that the city itself comprises separate towns that have ultimately been subsumed into one massive conurbation.
Understanding the intricacies of Walter’s map requires insider knowledge. Huge amounts of local information are depicted in words and symbols, which plot everything from the location of good pubs, dangerous dogs and ice-cream vendors to celebrated inhabitants, speed limits and the ethnic makeup of particular districts. This medley of cultural detail reveals Walter’s ‘act of journeying’ through the varied landscapes of London. The map is a compilation of decades’ worth of photos, sketches and notes, and a ‘receptacle of meaning about a place’ (Stephen Walter, Introduction to The Island: London Mapped, Prestel/Random House, London, 2015).
- Article by:
- Damian Walford Davies
- Transforming topography
Maps are often perceived as objective or ‘truthful’ representations of geographical data. In this article, Damian Walford Davies shows how they can also be vehicles for artistic or imaginative content, symbols, political agendas and cultural messages.