The Beauty of Maps

Jul 27, 2023 | Art, Videos

The Beauty of Maps (Seeing the Art in Cartography) is an intriguing documentary series produced by the BBC that focuses on map making and its artistic side. It explores maps in incredible detail to illustrate their artistry and uncover the stories they tell. From medieval maps, city maps, atlas maps, to cartoon maps – this series will leave you captivated and wanting more.

Let’s start with medieval maps! The Hereford Mappa Mundi is one of the best-preserved medieval wall maps in existence and it is truly astonishing. This single image captures all of human knowledge from classical and biblical history, contemporary buildings and events, animals from around the world, as well as mythical creatures believed to inhabit remote regions.

City Maps: Order out of Chaos provides a glimpse into four-and-a-half million maps stored away in the British Library basement. Through three ‘visions’ of London over three centuries – viewers can appreciate how urban cartographers attempt to bring order to chaos through detailed drawings.

Atlas Maps: Thinking Big introduces us to the Dutch Golden Age where map-making reached its peak of ambition both creatively and commercially through elaborate atlases that charted new discoveries around the world. Lastly, Cartoon Maps: Politics and Satire highlights how maps became devices for humor while examining public opinion over time. Graphic artist Fred Rose perfectly captured this with his election maps featuring Gladstone and Disraeli, using these pieces to comment on recurring political issues still recognizable today.

The Beauty of Maps is an enthralling series that celebrates both artistry and data visualization in incredible detail; exploring everything from culture and politics to science and history – it has something for everyone! So make sure you don’t miss out on this amazing documentary!

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David B