Very nutritious for your grey matter, and free, ‘Magnificant Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art’ is a new exhibit currently showing at the British Library.
‘Map of Nowhere’ – Grayson Perry
5 Etching plates.
60.2 x 44.5 inches
This display of historic maps commissioned and owned by royalty and gifted amongst each other by aristocratic adventurers, the papacy and later governments spans early 14th century to the Second World War. The exhibit views the map as a tool through which the Occidental states defined their position in relation to the rest of the world as economic and military empires.
My favourite is a 1670 map depicting John Narborough’s celebrated sailing of his ship through the strait of Magellan. Coloured with cerulean and apple-green undulating lines. Scaly grey and white mountain peaks encrust the swooning curves and bottlenecks of the straight. In these painted environs a wooden ship of constantly shape-shifting dimensions is depicted at various stages in it’s journey, frozen at each moment in time. In the bottom right of the paper there is a line up of squiggly natives with a description of their appearance and tendencies. The naivety of the observation is so amusing – I wish I had the text in front of me so I could decipher it properly.
Also, unexpectedly, Grayson Perry has a work in the exhibit in which medieval towns are renamed things such as ‘loved-up’, ‘underclass’ and ‘project-space’. Angsty, worried and cheeky. I actually really like it.
Lastly, on view is the world’s largest Atlas.
Gentleman: Ho, ho, ho! That’s extra-ordinary! You’d have trouble reading that in bed.
Me: You could use it as a bed. Use the pages as blankets.
Gentleman: Ha! I think it would ANNIHILATE you!