Cities bring together culture and ideas, convert human power in to form, energy in to civilization, they are like brains directing and developing civilized life

Joel Kotkin

Matthew Picton studied Politics and History at the London School of Economics. He has been a professional artist since 1998. He has exhibited widely on the West and East coast of the United States, Germany and UK. He also participated in numerous art fairs.

Living organisms well describe a city map; viewed as subject rather than object. Matthew Picton engages with this tradition of humanising the city by imbuing it with the unique history and culture of each place. He’s work investigates a city’s narratives, its history and its literary heritage, using texts and materials evocative of the events that define it. Layering each strand, he seeks to provide a linear perspective through which the viewer encounters the complexities of contemporary topography.

His work in map-art is so intense and rich that it can’t be summarized in a simple article. Otherwise it can be interesting follow the story of a city in different representation. Indeed Matthew Picton usually creates more than one sculpture for each city. So we can retrace all the maps he did about a single city and compere them. It’s even more interesting when these works depict different historic periods, like his maps of London.

London 1666

This sculpture has been created from research into the 1854 Cholera epidemic in London. John Snow created a map of the deaths in the Soho area of London, By mapping the epidemic he was able to pinpoint the scorch of infection to the Broad Street water pump. The research was able to prove that Cholera was a water born epidemic and pave the way for understanding and eventual eradication of Cholera from Europe.

Matthew Picton, London 1666 (2010), created from the book covers of “The Plague Years” by Daniel Defoe

Matthew Picton, London 1666 (2010), created from the book covers of “The Plague Years” by Daniel Defoe

Matthew Picton, London-1666, 2010 (detail)

Matthew Picton, London-1666, 2010 (detail)

London 1940

In London 1940, four panels depict the different wards of east London during World War II. Picton’s sculptures are created in accordance with the original bomb damage maps of wartime London. A meticulous record was kept of the damage that occurred to every street and building, and the maps were color coded to reflect the level of destruction. The finished structures are carefully burned to re-create this record, with the areas of total destruction detailed in the maps completely burnt away in the sculpture. This four part sculpture is intended to create a powerful visual reminder of the ruined state wrought upon the physical body of London by the war.

Mattew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012)

Mattew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012)

Matthew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012), detail

Matthew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012), detail

Matthew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012), detail

Matthew Picton, London 1940 – four panels (2012), detail

London 1666, 1832, 2007

Opposite to the other maps, this work passes trough the centuries in a single picture. Layers stratify as History does in the city itself. 1666’s London is the darker color in background. While time passes the front layers become brighter and bigger. The blue river stands out from the composition as a natural presence that never changes during ages.

Matthew Picton, London 1666-1832-2007 (2007)

Matthew Picton, London 1666-1832-2007 (2007)

London A-Z #1 & #2 Text Work

In conclusion we found this uncommon work. The city of London is here transformed by light. The map is also splitten by different layers, which are Picton’s identification characteristic. Places are no more represented by paper little sculpture, because this time lots of names and addresses cover the entire media. This work talks about contemporary London with its material and tecniques. Watching this reflecting surface you can feel the traffic, the chaotic motion of hundred people and the colored lights of Piccadilly Circus.

Matthew Picton, London A-Z #1 Text Work Laminated duralar, 2006

Matthew Picton, London A-Z #1 Text Work Laminated duralar, 2006

Matthew Picton, London A-Z #2 Text Work (detail) Laminated duralar, 2006

Matthew Picton, London A-Z #2 Text Work (detail) Laminated duralar, 2006

Sources:

http://matthewpicton.com

http://fadmagazine.com

http://www.elcontexto.net

http://geohackers.in