Thursday, February 24, 2011

all mapped out

I am always anxious at auctions.

 I keep thinking that I will impulsively raise my hand at an inappropriate time, and find myself purchasing a ghastly objet that costs a kings ransom!

For this reason I always take reinforcements, so my daughter Erin joined me at Rudd's recent auction of the Finnerin collection. That way, there is someone around to keep an eye on any errant hand movements!

Amongst the beautiful pieces painstakingly collected by the Finnerins over a lifetime, were a selection of beautiful  maps.

 I am fascinated by the art of cartography.

I find the stories they tell intriguing, they speak to me of the known and the unknown, of destiny and possibility. They are at once a window into the past and the present...

John Noble Wilford in his book 'The Mapmakers' speaks of maps as a ' very human story of heroics and everyday routine, of personal and national rivalries, of imfluential mistakes and brilliant insights, of technologcal innovation, and a passion to explore and understand Earth and the universe...'

The American artist Joyce Kozoff a painter commonly associated with the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970's, uses her work to explore map making and the human narratives that are hidden within them.

Kotzoff creates a hybrid of diverse elements using imagery from recipes, books, popular art and cinema to construct her topography. In this way the artist hopes to make sense of the flood of images which bombard all our lives.

Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca uses maps to suggest isolation, dislocation and with his almost always figureless works, a haunting sense of loneliness.

The fact that maps often become obsolete as a result of reallignments in power, adds to this feeling of vulnerability.

Kuitca has made use of many objects on which to project his art, and none are more arresting then these small children's mattresses which with their tangled, disjointed streets, map out a forlorn claustrophobic pathway.

Kuitca recalls that he used to wander into shops selling old maps and gather up any that caught his eye, Belgium, Honduras, remote areas of China. 'Then,' says Kuitca ' I got the idea that I was looking at the map to get lost, not to get orientated.' And it becomes clear that his works so theatrical in nature, seem to ask the same existential questions that we all do about 'where we are'.

 Elizabeth Lecourt constructs delicate garments out of the maps she finds

In the same way as the cartographer depicts a map in order to understand the world we are living in, Lecourt tries to access the wearer through the garment she inhabits.

 This work is entitled trust fund girl, naturally using only the very best streets in the neighbourhood.

And so of course, we bring evidence of our own journey, our personal sometimes prejudicial map making to the reading of each work.

 Here, a tiny bird is constructed from a vintage map.

 Delicate and fragile it speaks of a world in flux...

xxx elle


  1. Oh Elle, this is a magnificent post. I love maps and all they represent. You've brought together some fine ideas and images. The last one of the bird is a perfect conclusion.

  2. Teresa!

    Thank you so much for the encouragement.

    My blog has been reduced to a few postings written in last minute dash to beat the clock before midnight signals the arrival of the next month!

    The story of my life, if truth be told.

    Perhaps if a little more thought and preparation is given in good time, it will filter into other parts of my life that require management.

    I am so grateful for your lovely comments...

    xxx elle

  3. beautiful mom

    thank you for laying down the fine lined print that is my own guiding map everyday. you are my very favourite cartographer.

    first born
    skye bird