Tag Archives: geography


Southend Pier by Simon RobertsSouthend-on-Sea, Essex

I’m very fond of the British seaside. Not so much in a twee “OMG, let’s take photos and eat candyfloss!” kind of way – although that can be fun – but because there is so much to genuinely love about these former tourist traps, with their juxtaposed tackiness and architectural charm. I spent a lot of my childhood holidaying in Britain, as opposed to going on package holidays to places like Tenerife or The Costa del Sol. I felt quite envious of my classmates, who got to travel on an aeroplane and were guaranteed sunshine but, looking back, I think that spending rainy days in a caravan in Scotland and having trips out to Morecambe, Southport and Blackpool has made me feel more connected to the place where I was born. As I got older, I began to romanticise the typical English seaside resort because of their mix of joy, despair and faded grandeur. Of course this is present in a lot of small towns, but with the harshness of winter and idyll of summer by the coast, these extremes seem…amplified. This isn’t just some abstract feeling I have either. Although there are exceptions to this trend in prosperous locations, such as Brighton and Poole, the traditional British seaside town has long been in decline – offering the kind of unfashionably kitsch holiday that belongs to your granny and granddad’s halcyon days. A recent report called ‘Turning The Tide‘ details the deprivation present in the UK’s coastal towns – including the ones which haven’t been totally deserted by tourists. In a lot of these towns, the grand old hotels have since been converted into bedsits that are full of transients. Although I will always have a soft spot for Blackpool in particular, the reality of life there is pretty grim. In the series ‘Pierdom’, Simon Roberts focuses on Britain’s iconic Victorian piers, and his lens captures my feelings about these places perfectly. From wind-bitten, rusting structures to sun-bathed promenades, his photographs evoke the curious charm and essence of the British seaside.Hastings Pier Simon RobertsHastings, East Sussex

Boscombe Pier Simon RobertsBoscombe, Hampshire

Teignmouth Grand Pier Simon RobertsTeignmouth, Devon

Blackpool South Pier Simon RobertsBlackpool, Lancashire

More of Simon Roberts’ brilliant photography is on his website – there are more photographs from the Pierdom series, and you should also have a look at another project he has done called ‘We English‘, which focuses on English tourism in a much broader context.

Pop-Up City: The Book

Pop Up City BookThe guys behind Pop-Up City are bringing out a book! Well, they are trying to. They need a little bit more financial backing first, so I’m trying to do my bit to help them get it. Pop-Up City kindly gave me a book back in 2012…unfortunately it wasn’t my very own book – it was a copy of Indie Brands by Anneloes van Gaalen – but it still made me happy because I had won their competition, and got something lovely for free. So yeah, spread the love and all that, you get a discount if you pre-order!

They Don’t Love You Like I Love You

Maps! I love maps. Especially old ones, or ones that are a little bit different. But mostly I like maps because a lot of the time they kind of represent something a bit mysterious. You’ve got this detailed plan of an area that you might be visiting…and a map can provide so much information if it’s been designed well. But really, you’re not going to have a proper idea of what the location’s going to be like until you’re actually there. Here are some of my favourite cartographical finds…

Dorothy‘s song map uses titles and lyrics to make up a fictional landscape of pop and rock history. Recently, they have also built a film map on this same idea as well.

This bold, colourful, hand-drawn map of London was done by Jenni Sparks and is available to buy as a print.

David Ryan Robinson‘s hand drawn map of London started out as a project to hand draw a map of the whole of the UK. I hope he continues this, I’d love to see it progress and grow, especially as it’s not often you have the privilege of experiencing an artist’s work in progress.

This piece by Claire Brewster is typical of her style of work, and I love all of it. She combines the informative design of maps with the intricate craft of paper cutting – two of my favourite things, and a combination which I haven’t seen anyone else do as well as she does. If I had a spare £3,000 languishing in my bank account, then I’d buy one of her artworks in an instant.

Matthew Cusick uses fragments of maps in his painstakingly intricate collages. The first one of roads is kind of meta, but the second one of a woman is fascinating, as it shows how many different shades and tones can be found in something as uniform and distinctive as a map. The blank areas outlined in blue make me think of a half finished painting by numbers, there’s something really charming about that. I think it’s maybe because it reminds me of my aunty – when I was a little kid, she was in her teens, and she used to always do these painting by numbers. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

This map of the USA, by Design Turnpike, has been put together using salvaged number plates. Each state has been cut out of a number plate which corresponds to that state. It’s pretty appropriate considering that there are so many places in America where it’s absolutely necessary to have a car to get anywhere. I didn’t grow up in America, but when I was a kid I used to live in a village where the bus into town came about twice a week. I’m not even lying.