Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drawing the line: Maps and the 20th Century at the British Library

I love maps and quirky events so the combination of British Library Late and their exhibition on Maps and the 20th Century was a where-do-I-buy-a-ticket combination.

I'd been to a previous Late at the Library event which had involved a performance of the theremin and return of a top 1,000 album, namely 76:14 by Global Communications which had been fab and weird and this was a bit more sober, though that might be because I didn't partake in the bar.

The exhibition had all sorts of 20th maps including politics, military, commerce and entertainment, starting with one of those wonderful / awful (delete as appropriate) maps of the British Empire with acres of red paint as produced by the Navy League in 1901.

Here a trio decided to stand directly in front of it and have a long discussion about their family while those interested in maps had to peer around them. Ah well, free country and all that.

Some of the maps were rather chilling. I saw a photo from the air of London in the 1940s in which could spot Battersea Park and Power Station, but it was created to guide German bombers during the Blitz.

At least we can move on from that: other maps are still extremely topical, such as that showing the infamous Sykes Picot Agreement.

One of my favourites was the Marshall Islands Stick Chart (above) which Tristan no doubt knows all about. Another that caught my eye was this map and horizon drawing around the Bank of England:

After a bit the eyes did glaze when faced with a series of maps of 5 year plans and oil refineries and so it was time to leave and head out into the Late events.

This included a couple of virtual reality installations including one of London (they judged the interests of their audience well) and another of what it would be like to be in the land of Revelations. Artists could be seen drawing maps freehand and selling those created earlier and a DJ mixed tracks that echoed around the atrium:
There were also opportunities to contribute to a user generated map where the Thames was given but all the rest was up to us:

I added a pub: I think Buff would have approved.

On until the 1st of March so go now if you're interested.

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