Printing on maps.

Printing on old maps was an idea formed in my mind a while ago. With the advent of mapping systems paper maps are less relevant in everyday life. I love maps , particularly when the pressure of navigating to a destination in a timely manner has been removed. The crackle of an ordnance survey map was the first sign, when I was a child, that a trip was being planned.

I love the physicality of them, the awkward folds, the musty smell , the promise of adventure. I could’nt bear to part with my fathers maps when he died and I hate to see them unloved at charity shops.

I came up with a plan to print on old ordnance survey maps. I’m at the very early stages of this   and have been buying old ordnance survey maps. Initially I’ve been printing, painting and stencilling but soon I want to start Letterpress printing on them.

As often happens in art , things don’t go quite to plan . Ordnance survey maps lead different lives from one another. Stored in different ways , treated, or not, with respect. Stored in smoky,damp,daylight,houses, sheds, rucksacks. Each has a different quality and it has become an adventure not dissimilar to working on hand-made paper.  I select a portion of map to print on and then gently steam iron the creases  out. Then I decide what to do with each one depending on its intrinsic colours and those that it’s gained along the way.


Today I’ve managed to match the blue of the text on one printmap and the yellow of minor roads alongside mustard of the nicotine stains on another.


The maps remember their folds , and many are stained along the creases . Some do not succumb easily to inks or paints and fall apart during the process .

I’ve been asked to do an In Memorium print on a friends grandfathers map. A good bit more practice before I do that I think .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s