What if London was a separate island to the rest of the UK? No, that’s not Boris’s latest project now that his estuary airport plan has been sunk: it’s the idea behind ‘The Island’ by British artist Stephen Walter. ‘Britain is a collection of islands,’ he said. ‘I wanted to show London as one of those islands’. It took two years of pencil work for him to make his obsessively detailed map happen, and it’s on display in Shoreditch until the end of this week.
Two metres tall and entirely hand-drawn, ‘The Island’ has all the usual things you’d expect on a city map – street names, areas, parks, schools and car parks – and a few you wouldn’t: the death site of Jimi Hendrix, the last sighting of Victorian folk demon Spring Heeled Jack, and the haunts of John Constable and Geoffrey Chaucer. Elephant and Castle is marked by an elephant with ‘ugly’ written on its rear end, while nearby the Saatchis and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser rub shoulders. Wapping is ‘Woppin’, and Putney is ‘Puttas’. Meanwhile, another map by Walter called ‘London Subterranea’ plots not London’s surface but its hidden depths: the underground rivers, Tube lines and sewers that flow, rattle and ooze under our feet. James Manning
You can see both maps, alongside more of Walter’s fascinating, painstaking work, for free now at the Londonewcastle Project Space on Redchurch Street. The exhibition, ‘Anthropocene’, closes on Sunday.