Small but worldly maps exhibition makes sense of human wandering at London's Store Street gallery

By Chelsea Garner-Ferris | 28 January 2016

You are Here, Bloomsbury gallery Store Street's exhibition of artists interpreting maps ranges from gold leaf to the kaleidoscope in an exploration of human journeys

A photo of a gold map of a circular globe against a black background
Ewan Eason, Mappa Mundi London. Black silkcreen on gold leaf© Ewan Eason, courtesy Store Street Gallery
“A map does not just chart,” the American author, Reif Larsen, wrote in his cartographically-inspired book, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. “It unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.”

Situated on Store Street in Bloomsbury, in the shadow of the British Museum, is a small, white-walled, wooden-floored gallery space. You Are Here presents a selection of artistic interpretations of maps – mostly of London, but also featuring a few pieces with a more global perspective.

Editioned archival prints by Yanko Tihov, born and trained in Bulgaria, are multi-layered and painted with 24-carat gold, outlining in great detail the unique characteristics of different countries’ passports, colours and emblems.

A photo of a colourful map of London with passports embedded into it
Yanko Tihov, London Passport Map. Archival print with 23 carat gold© Yanko Tihov, courtesy Store Street Gallery
UK artist Ewan David Eason has works on display from his Mappa Mundi series; these golden-foiled studies of maps take their inspiration from Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps (a study performed in 1886-1903 to highlight London’s poorest areas). But here, in Eason’s version, he has combined the halos of religious iconography with the contemporary by stripping the maps of their purpose and transforming them, almost completely, into palettes of vibrant colour and abstract form.

The exhibition also features laser-cut, framed guide books and maps by Adele Moreau, sculptural trees in relief made from maps, resin and gold leaf by BP Portrait Award finalist Gemma Harwood, and beautifully folded – almost kaleidoscopic – designs by artist and architect Hedy Parry-Davies.

It is important to note that this gallery is first and foremost a selling space. Though the maps hold claim as the current exhibition, you do have to work to look past the additional pieces dotted around, down the central aisle and in the window cabinet. The upside is that many of these works are affordable (by art market standards) – you can even pick up a small, editioned and framed print by Eason for £200.

As an expat living in London, I have a fond, nostalgic appreciation for maps, particularly those of England’s great capital. You Are Here is a small but lovely exhibition of several artists’ interpretations of boundaries, places, people and the continuous effort to chart and make sense of our wandering existence.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three museums to see marvellous maps in

American Museum in Britain, Bath
In 1988 Dr Dallas Pratt, co-founder of the American Museum in Britain, gave the Museum more than 200 Renaissance maps of the New World – a collection acclaimed by scholars as one of the finest holdings of rare printed world maps in existence. This exhibition features a rotating display of historic maps in the collection.

National Museum Cardiff
When the industrial revolution was in full swing, the demand for coal, iron and limestone was huge. William Smith, a blacksmith’s son from Oxfordshire, realised that a map showing where different rock layers (strata) came to the surface would be of great value. See his creations in Reading the Rocks: the Remarkable Maps of William Smith, until February 28 2016.

Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura
The basis of today’s landscape has changed little but tree planting and
modern roads now cloak once bare hills and poor roads. With the help of
the early maps in the current exhibition, Amang the rigs o’ Barley, imagine the landscape Robert Burns saw during the late 18th century. Until June 18 2016.
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