It’s easy to admire Matthew Picton’s paper sculpted maps simply for their fine craftsmanship and close resemblance to the famous cities they represent – but you’d be missing so much hidden in the details. Beyond the exquisitely folded ribbons of paper forming the delicate maps are tales from each city’s storied past: floods, fires, wars. Each element has been carefully researched and woven into the final sculpture, from the paper used to create it, to the destruction Picton often revisits on the cities.
In one example, Venice, he has constructed each piece with references to Thomas Mann’s 1911 novel Death in Venice, based on his travels there and the cholera outbreak that swept the city during his stay. The walls mapping the city are constructed with pages from his book as well as with segments of the musical score for Benjamin Britten’s operatic interpretation of the story. The paper itself has been steeped, from the bottom up, in water and mud dredged from the lagoon surrounding the city. With top edges still perfectly sharp and intact, it is a clear reference to the current state of Venice and its future fate.
In London 1940, Picton uses 4 panels to show the destruction of east London wards during World War Two. Doing extensive research using original bomb damage maps, each bombed building and street was carefully burned to recreate the exact extent of damage witnessed in the wartime city. The areas completely destroyed have been completely burnt away. The walls of each ward are created from various texts exploring life in each location during the time.
Explore more of Matthew Picton’s fascinatingly storied maps at matthewpicton.com.
Above and Below: Venice and detail.
London 1666 (Great Fire of London)
London 1666 detail
Lower Manhattan (Attack on the World Trade Center)
Lower Manhattan detail
Moscow 1812 (Destruction by Napoleon)
Las Vegas detail