Map fascination

Yesterday Mr Woodsmoke and I had a breakthrough.  After 2 years and 3 months in our house, we finally hung a good chunk of our pictures (8 new ones yesterday).  Since I really think that pictures make a home, I am feeling a lot more comfortable today.

In the main bathroom, we hung a copy of J. Maizlish’s fabulous Edinburgh Art Festival (2011) map and I discovered that it has the side-effect of making me brush my teeth for the dentist-recommended time: I got so fascinated with the map that I could have gone on for 10 minutes if my toothbrush hadn’t beeped at me!

This map was provided as leaflets during the 2011 festival and I picked one up at the very end of the festival, loved it, intended to frame it, then found it again in my bag a few days later with mysterious stains on it.  Luckily I managed to find another couple of copies in the Fruitmarket a month after the end of the festival, so I now have one under glass and another one in case of emergencies.

I consider myself a map fan. I would love to say map geek, map enthusiast or map connoisseur but any of those would require knowledge.  I didn’t take geography beyond 2nd year of secondary school and have only read the occasional low-level book about the history of maps.  But I love the way that a map can draw you in.  This is obvious to anyone who sees the 4ft by 6ft world map in our dining room (I was only disappointed that the wall wasn’t big enough for the wallpaper version).

I love how the Art Festival map combines being useful, beautiful and interesting.  It has all the information that you would need to get to the venues – including the stuff that you can imagine a helpful friend drawing on a sketch map, such as ‘bus turns here’, and indications of where the good walks are.  The more you look at the map, the more you see the tiny important details.  ‘Blink and you’ll miss it’ by the east gate to the Botanics.  ‘Very steep’ on Calton Hill.

Then there are the fun, personal notes. ‘Ducklings’ on the Water of Leith.  ‘Kebab’ on Nicholson Square.  ‘Up up up’ on Victoria Street and ‘down down down’ on Candlemaker Row.  St Mary’s is designated ‘Inconspicuous Cathedral’.

And there’s also a sense of the physical: The North Ridge, The Black Ditch and The Green Ditch are marked.

The one thing that is a mystery to me is, why “The So-Called Grassmarket”?

This map does everything I want a map to do.  It’s useful and obviously aimed at someone walking or on public transport. But it has a fantastic personal outlook. You feel that you’re walking with the artist.  The map feels like a friend.

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5 Responses to Map fascination

  1. I love maps too, endlessly fascinating!

  2. notsogood says:

    I have it on good authority that the map maker made eye contact with several vendors and none of them looked to be sellers of grass of any kind.. none at all!!!
    … cheeky lad…that one.

    And I have to say.. I adore roosters.

  3. oooooooh that explains things :)

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