A Great Series On Maps

The BBC website is full of useful stuff, but once section I have just come across reminded me of a series they broadcast back in 2010. It was called the beauty of maps and came in four episodes. I am not sure if I saw all four, but certainly remember that it was good.

Best of all, the BBC have placed a whole lot of information on their site, this including 14 video clips, covering:-

* Colouring Maps

* Grayson Perry’s Map of Nowhere 2008

* The Klencke Atlas 1660

* Legacy of the Satire Map

* Satire Maps and Fred W Rose

* The Goldern Age of the Altas

* The Hereford Mappa Mundi c 1300

* William Morgan’s Map of London 1682

* Discovering Andreas Cellarius’ Star Map

* Discovering Braun and Hogenberg’s city map of Constantinople

* Discovering Digital Worlds: mapping virtual spaces

* Discovering Fred Rose’s Serio-Comic War Map

* Discovering Pierre Desceliers’ World Map

* Discovering the Psalter Map

The video clips vary in length between 1 and 4 minutes and will certainly entertain and enthral anyone interested in cartography.

The Four Episodes

Medieval Maps – Mapping the Medieval Mind

The first episode was broadcast on the 19th April 2010 and discussed the historical meaning of maps, concentrating on the Hereford Mappa Mundi. This map is the largest intact Medieval wall map and as you will know if ever you have seen it, it tries to capture all of human knowledge in just one single image. The name ‘Mappa Mundi’ actually means ‘cloth of the world’ and can be found safely behind glass in Hereford Cathedral in the UK.

In fact it is only the last 20 years that have seen this map’s rise to fame, before that it had been left in storerooms and mostly forgotten.

City Maps – Order out of Chaos

With the British Library having some 4.5 million maps in its collection, it is not surprising that only a small few percentage are on display to the public. That did not stop the BBC having a delve in the archives though, the episode looking at the maps before and after the Great Fire of London.

Atlas Maps – Thinking Big

Not everyone knows it, but the Dutch were at one time the power on the seas, their fleet covering the known world. This commercial success drove map making to new heights. One of the greatest mapmakers in this period was Gerard Mercator who changed cartography forever when he published his collection of world maps in 1598. This was the first time the word ‘Atlas’ was used and it has stuck ever since.

Cartoon Maps – Politics and Satire

This great series concluded with a quick delve in the world of satirical maps. It shows how maps took on a new role, not as sources of geographical data, but for the purposes of humour. It was in this period that the graphic artist Fred Rose caught the public’s imagination with his maps of the forthcoming General Election featuring Gladstone and Disraeli. Here he used the maps to give comment on the issues of the day, issues that would recognise today.

He was lucky in his timing as the technologies being introduced at that time allowed for high speed printing with larger runs at lower costs, something that allowed him to flood the market. He used the same techniques in 1877 when he produced his Serio Comic Map of Europe at War.

Overall, as you can see this series offers the ‘mapaholic’ some serious entertainment and I recommend it to all.

Categories: art

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