From the Harry Beck Tube Map to Hogarth’s Gin Lanes, art and design are key documenters of its shifting appearance. Now, artist Stephen Walter is to show his take on the capital, with his newly-created, intricate hand-drawn map, Nova Utopia.
The title is a reference to Thomas More’s famous fictional island state of Utopia. Originally published in the early 16th century, More’s Utopia is thought to have been written as an early criticism of European society.
Walter’s work looks at the Utopia as though it has been changed by 500 years of capitalism, adding a new dystopian twist. The drawings use Abraham Ortelius’ map of Utopia from 1596 as a template for a new region – a money-driven tourist destination, forming a pastiche of modern times.
Walter says, ‘My maps are a critique and a celebration of place, and the stories, histories and perceptions that inhabit them: I act as an editor or a filter through which the information is laid down.’
The title of Walter’s forthcoming London exhibition is Anthropocene, which means the current geological period, during which humans have played the most significant role in shaping the climate and the environment.
Much of the artist’s work looks at maps, and other works on show will include his 2008 London Series and 2012’s London Subterranea, which was created as a commission from the London Transport Museum.
The works form a huge survey of London’s underground world, with images of Tube lines and other subterranean matter created in response to stories sourced from the London Transport Museum archives.
Walter says, ‘The new wildernesses on our planet, waiting to be explored, are information, knowledge, history and time. These are altering our relationship with the physical world and the old traditional landmarks.’
Stephen Walter Anthropocene runs from 3 – 28 July at Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2