192 - Britain Seen From the North
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
British-born sculptor Tony Cragg (°1949, Liverpool) left his native land in 1977 to work on the Continent. He now resides in Wuppertal, Germany. This work, entitled ‘Britain Seen From the North’ (1981), is typical of a period when Cragg made floor and wall reliefs out of broken pieces of found rubbish.
It features the shape of Great Britain, oriented so that east is up, north is left. At that left is the figure of a person, possibly the artist himself, ‘seeing’ Britain from the north. Because of its components, the work has often been interpreted as a comment on the state of the nation at that time, when it went through considerable economic hardship – especially in the north.\n
Cragg was British representative at the (43rd) Venice Biennale (in 1988), where he earned a menzione speciale. In the same year, he won the Turner Prize. In 1994, he joined the Royal Academy and in 2002 he received a CBE. In 2007, he won the Praemium Imperiale. Not bad at all for a bloke who started out as a lab technician at the British National Rubber Producers Research Association.\n
Jantien van der Vet alerted me to the existence of Cragg’s strange wall map, acquired by and exhibited at the Tate Modern in London.\n
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