John Cowen

Artist & designer

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City map

11 March 2018

City map

This is a follow up to my post at the end of last year — its taken over two months, but I’ve finished another city drawing.

And, note-to-self, I need to get better a photographing these drawings.

There are a couple of forested areas shown, following the Ordnance Survey symbols guide I was originally (loosely) following. But I decided to drop this detail. I want the drawings to only show the city.

The empty areas are then just that, empty spaces. Moments of calm that the city hasn’t yet engulfed.

The first drawing included train lines, stations, power lines, water ways and the other details of a city you find on a map. This time I wanted to strip away the personalisation of the city. I want to show it as a predatory sprawl, surrounding and consuming the natural world.

There are still plenty of patterns left in the city that make it easily recognisable, road layouts and building shapes that a viewer can relate to and picture themselves living amongst. But I hope in keeping the visual language for these areas as restricted as possible — it increases a sense of repetition, enclosure and perhaps being overwhelmed.

To define coastline, and beaches or marshes, I started using a dotted effect. I’m undecided if it’s an effective solution or not. It does help define the landscape and as a visual pattern I think it has potential. But conceptually I wonder if it conflicts with the simplicity of just city or natural space.

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