City Cypher

From the vast dyspopia of Paul Noble’s Newtown to the Drawing The City project, the urban environment is cropping up again and again as central theme in art and design.

This week sees the opening of Leonie Lachlan’s City Cypher exhibition, which draws its inspiration from the built environment and the psychology of space.

book series
book series

The show includes drawings of a number of cities from around the world, as well as an exhibition of Lachlan’s City Cypher books, which fold out in a concertina effect, displaying a panoramic view of the city.

detail
detail

The first city to be documented like this was São Paulo, which Lachlan visited in 2008. This was soon followed by Paris, which Lachlan drew from the Pompidou Centre.

Paris interior
Paris interior

The beautifully printed letterpress and linocut covers from the books show typography created from different shapes in the corresponding city’s topography.

Lachlan says, ‘[The typography] makes a crude analogy between what I look to translate and understand from the city and their architectural vocabulary, one that isn’t my own.

‘I look to the ratios of windows and doors to create the titles on the covers. All of them have a similar architectural language but little intricate differences between each place add up to make a coherent understanding of the cities.’

Vienna cover
Vienna cover

Showcasing a number of different techniques including letterpress, printmaking, etching, drawing and building, it’s no surprise that Lachlan’s mother is a printmaker and her father is a planner.

‘It’s a fusion of those two things I guess. I grew up in Milton Keynes, so I’ve always been interested in urban spaces’, she says.

Vienna interior
Vienna interior

The City Cypher exhibition will debut Lachlan’s latest work, Vienna, as well as existing editions Paris, Berlin, and São Paulo. Next on the agenda is Doha, Qatar, and Lachlan’s visit to New York in 2012 also looks set to provide some key drawing-fodder for the artist.

East London Line, pencil and chalk on paper
East London Line, pencil and chalk on paper

Her current hometown of London, however, may not be finding its way into print any time soon. ‘Something that’s important to me is not to know the cities’, explains Lachlan. ‘I’m open to doing it but I might notice too many particular things.’

City Cypher will run from 1 – 8 December at Beach London, 20 Cheshire Street, London E2

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