Jumping out at Russell Square tube station, I noticed these doors at the end of the platform and was immediately drawn in by the arrangement of the security seal tape, and it’s constant removal and replacement along the vertical openings of the doors.
There is something paradoxical that the seals have been put in place and removed so many times. The cabinets being broken into, and then taped over again and again, as if some drama, a crime thriller is taking place with the repeat button firmly pushed down.
The vertical arrangement also reminds me strongly of the “Hanging Soap Women, 2000” sculpture by the Polish artist Miroslav Balka, of which, I believe, half of it is in the Tate Modern collection, and half of it is at the White Cube Gallery, after the original length was cut in two. This beautiful sculpture made of a large quantity of used bars of soap in lots of different colours and strung up along a metal cable is well worth hunting down to have a look at. It does have an underlying message as well, which has got absolutely nothing to do with what is going on in Russell Square, but perhaps you can see the connection.
Back to the mystery of what is going on behind these doors!
What makes it so worthwhile for somebody to break in so many times, risking capture, torture, possibly even death, and yet still persist?
Finding The Map House is easy if you have a map. I thought I would try my hand at cartography and draw you one:
OK – not very good, but it should get you there.
I’ve always been interested in maps, whether they are modern day Google maps, Ordnance Survey maps, or ancient maps way back before the globe, when they thought that the world was flat, and if you sailed too far west you would fall off the edge.
Adam Dant’s exhibition “Maps of London & Beyond” was only on for a couple of weeks or so, and I went along on the last day. The maps are social, satirical, and very observantly drawn with a bunch of history thrown in for good measure. Drawn painstakingly in pen and ink with watercolour tinting these are very witty documents.
The Maps and views he depicts are so detailed and full of tiny observations of everyday life, it is evident that he has been to “St James’s Square,” “Sloane Square,” or wherever, spending time with a sketchbook, and keeping his eyes open. Wonderful.
Other maps are themed, such as “Shoreditch 3000” showing the archaeology of the area, looking back from the year 3000. “Museum of the Deep” details all the shipwrecks in the Thames estuary – it is a crowded place!
My favourites were one called “Argotopolis” which shows the topology of London slang, and another called “London Enraged” which maps out all the riots and upheavals in London throughout history ranging from Boudica in AD 60, to the Brixton riots of 1981, 1985, and 1995.
The Map House itself is fascinating enough. It is not a wide frontage onto the street, and you enter as though into a ship’s cabin of a room, but it reaches back a long way with various staircases going up and down onto different decks. It is like being on a sailing ship. With walls adorned with maps and charts, you can easily imagine yourself at sea. All you need is a ship’s wheel to steer, and a parrot on your shoulder. Well worth a visit, even if the Adam Dant exhibition is sadly now finished.
I took the train up to London on Saturday, and for a fleeting moment, as we sped past an allotment, I saw this shed and hastened to do a sketch of it whilst it was still fresh in my mind.
I thought it kind of appropriate (as England were playing Belgium for 3rd place in the football world cup that day), and somehow quintessentially English, to have attached the St George’s flag to a garden shed in the middle of an idle allotment, somewhere in the south east of England, as the sun shone brightly.