Old maps and roadmaps, abandoned in some drawer in favor of navigators now within everyone’s reach, can turn into a great creative resource for British artist Ed Fairburn.
The streets, alleys and signposted details of natural features such as rivers or lakes thus become beautiful portraits in which man and landscape coexist to the point of blending into one another.
The streets of the urban grid thus no longer remain just geometries between mountains or plains, but are points of departure, lines, from which to set off details of faces, in what Fairburn called Topopointillism, a union of “topography” and “pointillism.”
The portraits are made using ink, paint and pencil on paper, which go to multiply the pattern created by the streets through short strokes, which are added to those made by cartographers. In a sense, it is as if the real landscape at the hands of the author thickens and the cities are enriched with new routes.
Integrating the human figure also means for Ed Fairburn to make sure that the functionality of the map is respected. Indeed, it remains clearly usable in its original function, only more decorated.
The artist’s series of portraits thus has two important vantage points, the first being the closer one, in which all the traditional details of a map can be seen; the other starts from further away, in which all the lines blur together to form a face that seems to come straight out of the center of the Earth.