My grandpa passed away last year, and though it wasn’t Covid-19 that got him, one of the nth-order-effects of the pandemic is that I’ve had loads of time to explore my grandparents’ legacy. They were fervent travellers, and I recently discovered a box of old tourist maps from some of the places they visited across their lives.
Tourist maps may not seem like such an interesting artefact today, but some of these were just plain lovely. Products of a pre-computer design era, and before they became cheaply-printed vehicles for advertising, they’re just nice to look at.
While I’m sure a 45-year-old map of bus routes in Rome isn’t going to have a functional purpose any more, they’re still such attractive images that I’ve decided to share them with the wider internet under a liberal usage license. I think some of these images have the potential to be used in artwork in interesting ways, which is part of the reason I’ve digitised them myself, in arbitrarily high resolution.
How high-res they are largely depends on how big the physical map was – for the bigger maps I photographed them in pieces, then did a quick stitching of them in my ancient version of Photoshop. Some of the seams aren’t perfect, but that’s not really why the images are there.
Surprisingly, this isn’t anywhere near all of the maps in the collection I found, but I just picked out the ones I thought were the prettiest. I particularly like one of the maps of Venice, a surprisingly-cheerful and hand-drawn map of Manhattan, and how much Washington DC looks like a Sim City map.
I hope whoever finds them makes something interesting with them – hopefully something better than opportunists selling overpriced prints of them on Etsy, because that would make me sad. Make something cool, internet!
Twentieth century maps in high resolution
Lilly and I spent most of the month of June this year on a voyage across East Africa. We had an awesome time, and when we got to Kenya I had the opportunity to realise one of my daily illustrations from a year or so ago, by shooting the Big Five Game (With my Nikon!).
#1: Cape Buffalo
What a filthy beast!
I particularly liked how an egret seemed to befriend this rhino
We saw fully-maned lions and cubs too, but I like this photo the best!
The big one for us! Elephants are such wonderful creatures
I don’t know how our guides spotted this chap in the tree, but there he is, showing everyone how to flop!
If you liked these pics there are plenty more where they came from… We also got to meet Gorillas in the mountains and all kinds of other brilliant beings on the trip. You can check out a gallery of some more of my photos on Flickr here!
This is a short video my Grandpa made this weekend, as an entry for this BBC competition, demonstrating the system he devised for detecting whether my Gran’s car was in the garage or not.
This is far from his first invention; it accompanies his remote controlled garage door opener, for example, which long-predates the commercial kind. His system is, like the mauve car detector, made out of wire coat-hangers and other household stuffs. His genius even lent itself to one of my most reputable album covers, as I mentioned on this blog at the time, by offering me engineering advice on how to make the lights from the Now More Than Ever artwork.
When he sent this video through to the family this weekend, we were all taken aback by how brilliant it is. My dad hit the nail on the head: “It helps to explain so much about me, you, my life and pretty much everything!”.
And that’s why I’m posting it here!
I live in Rickmansworth. It isn’t really fair to call it my motherland; I just couldn’t resist the alliteration! I might not have been born or brought up here, but I have been living here for a good few years now and am kinda attached to it. In fact, the townspeople seem to like having me here too, as every May, they get together and celebrate ‘Ricky Week’!
At Ricky Week a couple of years back, the church at the bottom of my street opened its tower to the public, so Lilly and I went up there as it offered a nice view over our village. While we were up there, I overheard an older fella muttering about how the village has been ruined by all the modern architecture.
Continue reading “Rickmansworth: my modernist motherland” →
I should probably write about the things that influence me more often. A couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered The Secret Life of Machines, a Channel 4 TV series from the late eighties / early ninties. I used to watch this with my Dad when I was really small- it was on TV when I was between the ages of 2-7 apparently (!) – and despite being so young, it clearly made an impression on my tiny mind!
Here is a clip from the show, where Tim Hunkin describes what the concrete ballast in a washing machine is for, with the assistance of Rex Garrod:
Genius. They picked such an expressive washing machine for the demonstration too! It’s great watching this stuff again as the longstanding lines of influence are pretty apparent. For example, here’s a series of post-it notes from 2007 that bear a subtle resemblance to the above clip:
Which is a concept I revisited last week:
Now there’s an idea that is going somewhere!
Anyway! If you like washing machines, you can see more of my washing-machine-related daily artwork by clicking here, or if you just like machines in general, you can find links to watch more of the secret life of machines on Tim Hunkin’s website.
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