No Such Place: A Partial History of Imaginary Maps
To tie in with Ground Level, QUAD commissioned Artist Cathy Haynes to curate an exhibition on the theme of imaginary maps. In a ‘residency of maps’ she journeyed utopias and fantasy lands with a list of questions such as: Did we really believe the earth was flat before Columbus? How have map-makers filled gaps in known territory? Can a map ever be perfectly true? What counts as an imaginary map? Can a map shape reality? Can it even alter our sense of identity?
To find the answers, she looked at maps from the Age of Discovery that combine new scientific thinking with mythical beasts and puzzled over secret codes and private jokes inscribed in official land surveys. She complemented this with research of Ocean charts, peppered with phantom landforms, including one respected scientist’s theory that the earth is hollow, plus a blueprint for straightening the Thames through central London.
Through the findings of her research process, she has made a collection of extraordinary maps and map-making stories from the history of cartography, engineering, philosophy, literary fiction, interwoven with pop culture, propaganda, contemporary art and feature films.
Image: The Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus, 1539: the most accurate map at the time of the Nordic countries.