Monday, 7 April 2014

P A P E R   C I T I E S   w i t h   a   s o u l

At a glance, maps are a one dimensional expression of a place - a tool that defines to the viewer physical characteristics like extent, topographic features and connectivity. However, a place, let's talk about cities here - is much more than this. Cities are living, breathing organisms. They have distinct identities, a network of veins and arteries that keep them throbbing. Many modern cities have a rich history, they have gone through many churns and upheavels, some have reinvented themselves - all these changes peep out here and there from the city fabric.

A city can be alive, thriving, invigorating or dull, depending upon the when and where of the observer.  The observer has to make a "connect" with the city to be able to understand & experience it. Today's post brings to you City Sculptures by Mathew Picton, a Cartographer who infuses extraordinary elements into simple city sculptures, enabling a viewer to 'connect" with the cities he creates.

Let's read on to discover how...

Image: Saint Petersberg;

Picton is a Cartographer with a unique approach. 
He recreates cities - most of them rich in history & culture in 3D, with paper.

Image: Detail from Saint Petersberg;

These are paper sculptures with a soul - maps that have elements intrinsic to the city embedded in them. Elements that have been a defining voice in shaping this organism, that are an inextricable part of its past & present. These elements could be paper with text that relates to the time in history the model depicts, poetic descriptions, works of writers/ artists belonging to the place.  

The sculpture of Saint Petersberg above contains key dates in its history. Also included are works of famous writers & poets, in English & Russian. An interesting method has been used to indicate major historical events and how they affected the city e.g. areas with Russian text were not affected by the Great floods.. 

Did you notice sections with musical notes - the 7th Symphony by Shostakovich.

Image: Boston 2014
"I’m not looking for dry factual accounts of a place, instead I aim to work with literature that creates a more visceral, lasting impression of a particular place and time." Mathew Picton for

The Boston Sculpture depicts the city's evolution over time through use of different colored papers & varying heights. The Great fire of 1872 is depicted in the burnt & singed area.

Image: Venice 2012

And now a city that has captured the imagination & concern of people world over - Venice. Interestingly there is no blue in this sculpture - a color that immediately comes to mind when you think "Venice". You instead see a lot of grey - mud from the Venice lagoon, a reminder of the fact that this marvel is being reclaimed by the sea...

Images: Left: Dresden 1945;  Right: Dresden 1945 Burnt

"Some cities exist in the imagination more powerfully than others. I like to engage in specific events that cities have undergone as these are frequently the moments of pivotal change.....The additional cultural references provide width to the events, ways of seeing and imagining them, a sort of prismatic lens through which the events of history can be viewed and examined." Mathew Picton for

Image: Dublin, June16 1904

                Image: Moscow 1808, 1905, 2007 Duralar, enamel paint, pins, 2008

Mathew Picton has created several works in other mediums that are equally thought provoking. 
I am including a few here - maps again, that tell stories of cities..

Image: New Delhi  Duralar, enamel paint, pins, 2006

Image: Shanghai  Duralar, enamel paint, pins, 2006

“There is some intrinsic quality to cartography that goes beyond the scientific document – a beauty of form and detail, a record of past times and places, something that lives as a world in which imagination can flow; places to re-visit, places to re-imagine, a world to re-make itself in the imagination.” Mathew Picton in 'The Case of All Cities' published 2010

You can see more of Mathew picton's works here

All Images: Mathew Picton's website unless mentioned otherwise 

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