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Time Travel Explorer Blog

Magnificent Maps at the British Library

by Peter Watts 20. August 2010 10:45

Londoners who love maps – and if you’re reading this there is a fair chance you are both or either – are in luck at the moment, because the British Library is hosting one of its regular in-depth exhibitions about maps. This one is called Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art and is drawn from the Library’s unmatchable – well, almost, the US Library of Congress has more – collection of 4.25 million atlases, maps, globes and books about cartography, dating from the fifteenth century to the present day. Peter Barber, the lucky man who guards this magnificent archive, can be heard in discussion with David Starkey here.

 

It was another recent British Library maps exhibition, London: A Life In Maps, that first introduced many Londoners to the world of Greenwood, Stanford, Horwood and Rocque, those pioneering London cartographers whose work you can explore in the Time Travel Explorer application.

 

The current exhibition looks at how maps are used to demonstrate political power and wealth and asks for them to be viewed as art alongside paintings and sculptures. The highlight for most people is The Island, the extraordinary recent work of Stephen Walters. This is a very personal view of London, in which Walters begins with a standard map of London and then draws his own landmarks over it, whether it is parks that are good for ‘al fresco bonking’ or cheekily reimagined versions of familiar place names. Its idiosyncratic nature means it isn’t any good for actual navigation, but you could do a lot worse than give it a thorough browse here.

Time Travel Explorer: The Blog

by Matt Brown 18. August 2010 11:13

Do you like maps? Do you like London? Well, you've successfully navigated to the right place.

In this new blog, we'll be revealing the stories behind London's rich cartographic history, and the ever-evolving tools and technologies that herald a new golden age for the craft of map making.

The blog runs alongside the Time Travel Explorer application, now available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Using the App, you can explore precisely how the street pattern of London has changed over the centuries by overlaying maps from different eras and fading between the them. The cartographic visuals are backed up with stories and anecdotes about London's history from a Blue Badge guide. 

This blog will add context to the App. What was the first map of London? Who were the key map makers? How have the streets of London changed, and how do maps help us understand this? Where can you learn more about mapping? How are modern technologies transforming our understanding of the city? These and many other themes will be explored with regular blog posts.

And who is this ‘we'? Time Travel Explorer's blog is written by two well-known London obsessives: Matt Brown and Peter Watts.

Matt (‘M@') Brown has written something like 3000 articles and blog posts about London (not that he's counting). He edits Londonist.com, a site covering news, events, history, culture and...well, just about anything to do with London. Matt has created many maps of London, including the highly popular map of free wifi locations, a plot of V2 rocket strikes in WWII and a map of subterranean London. He also instigated a competition to get Londoners making hand-drawn maps of their local areas. Matt has also written extensively about London for Time Out, The Guardian, Warner Bros. Pictures, Lastminute.com, Nature, Nature Network and many other miscellaneous web sites, books and magazines. His extremely common name and a youthful in-joke back in 1994 led to his adoption of the moniker ‘M@'. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Follow him on @MattFromLondon.

Peter Watts's London map epiphany came when he saw a knitted map of London football territories in Desmond Morris's The Soccer Tribe when he was 14. He bought his first A-Z when he was 15 and has been a journalist since he was 17. Peter has worked as a sports columnist, TV critic and guide-book editor, and was most recently features writer at Time Out. He is now a freelance journalist, working for New Statesman, Prospect, the Times, Independent on Sunday and Uncut, as well as attending to his own Londoncentric blog The Great Wen. He is currently working on his first book about, you guessed it, London. Follow him on @Peter_Watts.

Keep checking back, or subscribe to the RSS, for regular bagatelles about our great city's past, present and future in maps.

You can also follow Time Travel Explorer on Twitter: @TTXApp