With sustainability and upcycling being the watchwords of the last few years, it was only a matter of time before the intrinsic beauty of vintage maps was realised. It started with a couple of independent designer/makers cutting butterfly and heart shapes out of old Ordnance Surveys and selling them on crafty websites, then they began to be used to cover notebooks and journals, and now suddenly everyone is making the most of their design potential.
But not only do they fit with the spirit of taking something old and giving it a new lease of life, maps also hark back to a simpler time, when our cities and countryside weren’t so built up. Use them like Surface View has here, as the inspiration for art work to cover a blind, wallpaper a whole wall or simply turn into a canvas block to hang as if it were a framed work of art. Use old maps to cover the inside of cupboards, giving them an instant update, or measure up strips with which to line shelves and the inside of drawers as an alternative to more traditional chintzy florals.
Or, get even more creative yourself and cut out your own shapes from old maps you no longer need, or from maps of the destinations of your favourite holidays. It will create the sort of conversational pieces that are instant talking points – the beauty being that each square you cut out will be different, unique, and perhaps evoke memories of a time you visited the places on display. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and for many of us, using them as decor is a whole lot simpler than trying to read them.
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Pip McCormac, Guest Editor
View all posts by Pip McCormac, Guest Editor