Sunday, 13 September 2009

Maps re-fashioned

The fashion for maps has changed somewhat over the years, to say the least. I remember learning all the symbols on Ordnance Survey maps in my geography lessons at school – a far cry from the earliest cartographical representations of the ‘flat world’ – and now, of course, we have have satellite GPS and digital services, such as Google Maps.

Some might question the need for a physical map in this day and age, but most ‘sat nav’ systems seem to be far from perfect. The version in my car is pretty useless, so I still resort to the good old A-Z of London (though most of the text is miniscule and, these days, my arms aren’t sufficiently long to hold the book far enough away to read the damned street names).

If you’re a tourist coming to London, perhaps for London Fashion Week, I have a novel suggestion for finding your way around town. How about one of these curiously cool papier mache mini bags from ShopCurious to help with your directions. Each of the handmade bags is totally unique and made from original recycled maps.

The map of London bag seems to cover most of the centre of town, including key landmarks like Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament. All the bags have a usefully long carrying strap, so they can be slung across your torso, keeping your valuables safe from petty thieves.

There’s also one featuring an antique map of the world, though I’m not proposing you try to use this when planning out your trip.

It’s been a bit of a circuitous route, but I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our new theme: For the next month or so, I’ll be focusing on the topic of ‘memories’. Trying to be a bit clever, I looked up ‘memory map’ on the internet – apparently there’s a course on ‘memory mapping’ as part of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Essex.

However, memories of place (where you were born, where you have lived and travelled to) are very personal. What I like about maps is that they are pretty universal and can be understood and appreciated all over the world, regardless of language or culture. Over the centuries, maps have been re-fashioned to bring people closer and closer together. I just hope new trends in the mapping of our actual location don’t impinge too much upon our individual sense of place and time…

Do you?

1 comment:

Sean said...

And not forgetting the Schott flight jackets with maps on the inners in case you get shot down.