Shifting Perspective

The dirt track between vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva looked nothing like a road, but my GPS system insisted this was the way to my destination. As it turned out, the tractor-rutted road did lead to my friend’s house, but the route was neither the most direct nor the best maintained. On my…

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Embroidered Learning

I had to learn two very different skill sets as a girl: needlepoint and geography. Who would have thought that at one time, girls were expected to learn the two together? What an unexpected interdisciplinary education! Among the women in my family, right up to my generation in the 1970s, needlework and yarn work were…

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Cartography of Extremes

Maybe it’s the instinctual part of humans that makes us obsessed with the biggest, the strongest, the highest, the illustrious measurements that dazzle. Whether it’s the highest mountain, the broadest lake, the longest river, we look for inspiration in extremes. Whether it’s justified or not, we do the same in societies. The biggest economies, the…

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Rendering Unseen Stories

I was recently alerted to this lovely collection of maps on Canva – a collection that isn’t meant to provide physical directions but to provide inspiration for design. Map-making has almost always been a way of┬átelling stories at least as much as it has been a way to find places.   This particular collection, which…

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Tactile Topography

I came across some maps the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. Carved wood maps are well-known Inuit instruments of cartography, made to navigate the coastal waters and inland areas of Greenland. The maps are read by feeling along each ridge, and are legible up one side and…

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Maps and Being There

We spent the week on the shores of Lough Corrib near Cong, Ireland. Lough Corrib has an estimated 1200 islands and extends up through the Conemara mountains, and down to Galway on the western coast. Renowned for good fishing and its varied wildlife, it’s the second-largest lake in Ireland. The birdsong at dawn is a…

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Southern Swirl

Over on the ever-mesmerizing UXBlog, I found these hypnotic examples of historical cartography – a backward glance at a century of hurricanes. These maps are oriented with the Antarctic at the center, and show both the trajectory and intensity of each storm for which data was available. According to John Nelson, who created the maps,…

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Mapping Art

Maps are fickle things. Drawn and redrawn, created as a part of exploration or conflict, subject to interpretation. As Simon Garfield says, they “relate and realign our history”. They’ve always been the subject of artistic invention, as well. What’s left out of a map is as important as what’s in plain sight. It used to…

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