Sunday, 12 June 2011

Hand-Drawn London

I've heard a lot about the Hand-Drawn London exhibition at the Museum of London, one of many places in London that are so familiar that it's never the right time to visit, so today it seemed like that time had finally come. The show originates from who invited members of the public to submit hand-drawn maps of a part or all of London. It's an appealing idea, maps drawn from memory to show how people understand the city around them. It's on the Independent's Five Best London Shows list this week, and I'd certainly agree that small exhibitions are preferable to those endless blockbusters. As an exhibition, though, this one is disappointing.

In fact there are only eleven maps in this small show in the museum foyer, and you can see all of them at reasonable resolution on the Londonist website. There are some nice ideas and elegant drawings, but there are 45 maps on the website, which wouldn't be an excessive number for an exhibition. The ones on show are the most accomplished artistically. I was hoping for something less self-conscious, more spontaneous, maps drawn without the A-Z or Google to get the layout right, dense biroed mind-maps doodled in the lunch break, even some completely wrong ideas about how London is laid out. One or two are like that, but it might have been more interesting, more surprising to see the whole range, not just the most accomplished.

Fortunately there is an added incentive: the excellent London Street Photography show downstairs is well worth a visit.

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