Finding art in cartography

DISCOVERY Maps are great storytellers which also chart our personal experiences. They make great decorative pieces, writes Lakshmi Ranganathan

Finding art in cartography

Are you wondering what to do with all your maps now that GPS has all but made maps obsolete? You are not alone. With more and more new cars having GPS and all smart phones coming equipped with “cards” for directions, you don’t need to have maps to know where you are going.

Decorators in the West have found a new use for maps. The slogan is, “There’s ‘Art’ in Cartography.” Street grids, the curve of a shoreline, any topographic detail, all find use in wall art, rugs and textiles such as sofa throws or cushions. Besides being striking visuals, maps can chart our personal experiences, and it is this sentimental punch that makes them appealing.

Are you wondering what souvenir to pick up from your next trip? Rather than another paperweight or coaster why don’t you just bring home the map that your hotel has left you? A collage of these maps will make a striking wall hanging!

Tony and Katie Rodono, a couple in Atlanta, Georgia in the US started City Prints, a map art store. “We realized maps are great storytellers – of where we met, went to school, went on vacation,” says Katie. The Rodonos sell readymade and custom maps of university campuses, sports facilities and hometowns. They can even print for you maps of your favourite holiday spots or trails.

This company is not the only one on the scene in this new business. Brooklyn’s Haptic Lab sells hand-stitched, quilts with city maps of Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Washington D.C.

Tactile sensation

These are not only very colourful but also provide an exquisite tactile sensation. There are several companies who are in this business of providing maps as art form for your homes and these can be found online. In India, one may not be able to find readymade décor items made featuring maps as yet but here is not only an enterprise for you to get into or at least to decorate your home in. You can Google say, “Map Art in India.”

This will lead you to several very pretty maps not only of India (Political, Physical and Geographical) but also road maps of cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, or Bangalore. Once you get started on maps there is no saying where these will lead you to.
You could, for instance, have a map of India with only Bangalore coloured.

Then you could have a map of Bangalore with your neighbourhood coloured. This in turn could lead to another map of your locality and so on. These could be in Black and White too. I saw a Railway map of India online. This, if it were pasted on your wall would be a great conversation piece. So go on, find the ‘Art’ in Cartography!

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