Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Beauty of Maps

Old maps are a beautiful thing in themselves, and although the new GIS-ready vector files are essential for research and efficient processing I have a real soft spot for the old cartographic methods. I would rate nautical charts possibly at the top in terms of an item that links beauty and functionality and I have a large A0 print of the SW Coast of Ireland up on my wall at home. So having explained my soft-spot for maps it should be no surprise then that I was delighted when I came across a post on Twitter recently (I'm @con20or if anyone wants to tweet me) showing someone who reuses old maps and created something even more attractive out of them! An artist named Matthew Cusack takes old maps, and then uses pieces of these to create a collage of natural and human subjects. Have a look at this example of an ocean wave. I would love one of these, but you need to 'contact the gallery' for prices - so I think its a bit out of my price range....


  1. Old maps in and of themselves are beautiful, particularly for me, old city maps but they are also a portal to the past. Not just an empirical representation of what existed at that time, a survey, or the sociopolitical situation of the day but also the attitudes of the individual cartographer. Presumably cartographers of the past were educated and quite likely part of the establishment. Prominence generally is given to, and I'm speaking particularly of city maps, important buildings. Government buildings and gentlemenly estates figure highly. More map space is given to churches and monuments to curry favour with the cartographer's employer and impress apon map users the importance of the above features in society. Maps were used to, not just record, but reinforce the status quo.

  2. Have you ever visited the hall of maps in the Vatican Conor ....amazing place.?

  3. @Anonymous - that's certainly an interesting thought and one that had never occurred to me. Certainly we have plenty of examples of cartographic exaggeration with supposed political/racial undertones such (highlighted by the articles that pop up often on Peters projection) or border land grabs - but I had not thought of this at the city level. They would keep all the good hatching styles!

    @Patrick - unmissable

  4. A great page I found with old printable maps


About Me

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My name is Conor. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. These few lines will (hopefully) chart my progress through academia and the world of research.