The Island: London Mapped
London's streets, built up over more than two thousand years, are a maze of history, cultures and stories. In his fantastically detailed maps of the city, Stephen Walter translates these elements into a tangle of insightful yet humorous words and symbols that make up a complex of hidden meanings and wider contradictions. Testament to Walter's skill and importance as a cartographer, his groundbreaking, oversized map The Island was one of only two works by contemporary artists to feature in the seminal Magnificent Maps exhibition held at the British Library in 2010, the other by Grayson Perry and was exhibited together with some of the most important maps in history, such as Pierre Desceliers's 1550 world map. The work, which reimagines London as an insular body of land surrounded by water, has now been reconfigured and turned into Walter's own version of a London street atlas, with readers able to explore his unique vision of the city by flicking through the pages. A grid at the front of the book lets readers easily navigate their way through the map and the large-scale, detailed reproductions allow for close examination of his witty and inventive depictions.Walter's cartographic renderings have a cult following and now a wider audience will be able to immerse themselves in his uniquely personal vision - one that both celebrates the art of mapmaking and pokes intelligent fun at the city he calls home.
Stephen Walter holds a master's degree of fine arts from the Royal College of Art in London. His work is exhibited around the world and his pieces are in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the British Library. Peter Barber joined the British Library in 1975 and has been Head of Maps since 2001. In recent years, Peter curated the 2006 exhibition London: a Life in Maps and the hugely successful 2010 exhibition Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art.