Strong & Unstable II

  • New work from the Capricious Cartography series
  • Sculpture in the City launches on 30 June
  • Watch a London Live video – with a brief appearance from me

I hope you’ll be able to make it to see my latest work, A Worldwide Web of Somewheres, in Leadenhall Market until May 2019.

Photo © Nick Turpin
Marshall Islands Stick Chart. Couldn’t find an image of a fishing net-map. Perhaps I imagined it.

For some time I’ve been trying to find ways of making maps that are more mutable, shifting and unstable than traditional cartography (whose roots are often in authoritarian boundary-marking)

This work is partly inspired by Polynesian fishing nets, which I’ve been led to believe were also maps of wind and sea currents. In their lines and nodes, these nets reveal an unseen natural infrastructure that conditions the course of journeys, that allowed their creators to navigate vast oceanic distances.

Similarly, my handwoven net charts infrastructure beneath the City of London: sewers, tube lines, telephone and broadband forming a twisted fabric together representing infrastructure, superstructure and topography (the lie of the land).

London Hydraulic Power: A network of pressurised water transferring kinetic energy across the city until 1972

I think of systems as more integral to cities even than buildings – whether they’re physical systems like infrastructure, or intangible systems like social networks or legal frameworks.

Lots of people, though, think that systems trap – it’s a very common libertarian trope – both on the left and right wing. But systems can also act as a kind of safety net.

This work is suspended above our heads: recalling both an acrobat’s safety net, or a hunter’s trap.

Do systems entangle and constrain, or do they allow us to take risks – a chance on a high wire?

When do systems become like anachronistic cobwebs, that need to be swept away?

These net-maps are perhaps a good way to think about systems. Like this net, which is completely handwoven, all systems are human-made, and they can be unmade. They’re frail and fragile and need to be renewed or maintained; they can also be strangely persistent and robust.

A mesh of shifting contingencies, both strong and unstable.

Watch a video about Sculpture in the City on London Live – I make an appearance at 1m10.

Maya Jasanoff says that the digital age we think we live in today is actually a very material age: more trade travels by sea now than at any other time in world history. In a time of uncertainty about how Britain relates to the rest of the world, this artwork is about reaffirming our physical connections to people, places and ideas beyond our understanding.

Read More

A Worldwide Web of Somewheres

Practical Information

Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LT | Generally open 24/7 | Until May 2019

There are interpretation plinths at every artwork with a map showing other Sculpture in the City location; or pick up a booklet from the City information centre near St Paul’s.

The Launch event is 30 June and includes a variety of events for all ages.
Free tours, booking required. See the website for more.

Sculpture in the City Press Release
Sculpture in the City website