A New Subterranean Map of London

London Transport Museum has commissioned me to create a new map for them. Our initial dialogue centered on ‘The Island’, a Map of London that I finished in 2008. Basically it was a hand-drawn map of London’s surface, where words and symbols mingled with geographical information to form among other things – a celebration of place. Traces of local history still resonating today were noted along with popular culture, contemporary life and autobiographical events.  It was essentially a people’s map, a snap shot of a vast and complex city frozen in time.

The information came from a vast range of sources – books, Internet, talking to people as well as my own experiences in the city of my birth and up bringing. I of course edited the details and epithets, but the filter that I used was a broad one in order for the piece to act as a mirror onto its viewer. The serious and the hard facts were to merge with the absurd and banal. It would defy conventions and act as a litmus paper to the reactions of its readers.

A portion of my internet-based research came from Wikipedia. I was drawn to the ability of the medium as a direct and democratic arena in which anyone could contribute his or her story. What is fact and what is fiction and the residue left behind from both is in itself the very fabric of our culture and our folk laws. And so, this blog lends itself to that.

I said afterwards, I would like to have noted the lost rivers of London in ‘The Island.’ The continuing flow of waters that now find themselves diverted and channeled through a system of pipes underground still ending in the Thames. These are the very routes of our city. When London Transport Museum came to me for a new idea, I thought of it straight away – An Underground map of London where I could finally include those lost rivers and develop my own tube map.

I am currently developing the ideas for this subterranean map of London and entries to this blog may contribute to its development. The map will include the underground transport network, the lost rivers of London and other notable sites of interest from pre-history to the contemporary. However, I am also looking to delve a little deeper into the questions of what the ‘underground’ means and how it might be interpreted.

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2 thoughts on “A New Subterranean Map of London”

  1. I sometimes observe the puzzled look on the faces of some tourists in Holborn when they look down at the northern end of the Kingsway tram subway in Southampton Row. They see two tracks on a cobbled street going down a ramp into this tunnel at the end and many think it is something to do with the Underground but it isn’t. Sometimes I tell them that it was a subway where London’s original trams ran to get from North London to South London from when the subway was built in 1906 until the subway closed in 1952. It certainly opens their eyes when they realise that as well as the iconic red buses, London also had a vast tramway system from the 1880s until the last of the remaining London trams ran in July 1952.

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