Along the way I have experimented with a number of different approaches; most considered only suitable for the trash bin but all helped in the evolution of “The Road to Nowhere”.

car game map

Firstly I considered the difficulties parents face when travelling with children and the need to keep them occupied to avoid the perennial question “are we there yet”.  I experimented with combining a conventional map and pictorial representations of landmarks on the route turning it into a car game.  That idea went the way of the dinosaur and I moved on to a fantasy map idea………………………………


pirate map2

Those were also consigned to the scrap heap and I moved on to the idea of combining concepts such as land mass sky and contour lines in an effort to map dreams.

land of nod

smaller road to nowhere 2I further explored the concept of  lines representing streets and directions, but as a lot of people report they have trouble reading maps, this one will take you wherever you imagine with the surety of getting lost.  So the “Road to Nowhere” was born.



Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 2.35.41 pmMapping has come a long way since the days where the need was just simple directions to avoid obstacles or find the quickest route from A to B, and has become an artistic tool as well as a provider of information.

Maps are created using textiles, screen printing, typography, wood burning, stained glass, computer generated  and more. There are realistic maps, abstract maps, wood burnt maps from fiction such as the 100 acre wood.  And just now there has been an announcement that Prof Melissa Knothe Tate and her team at UNSW Biomedical Engineering have been working on what is called “Google maps for the body”

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Jill  K Berry and  Linden McNeilly’s  book “Map Art Lab” shows a multitude of ideas for creative mapping.  Some do not provide direction to get from point A to point B though do provide information.  The example “Pets in my Neighbourhood”  is more likely to be a statistical analysis than what a map is generally considered to be.

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When considering my own impression of map making I explored the abstract concept – what I call the anti-map.  I find the layout of central Canberra interesting with its circular roadways and it immediately came to mind when looking through Art + Quilt by Lyric Kinard – page 10.


Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.29.30 pmAnother form of mapping is the weather map – where the projected weather is presented in a visual form.

In the middle of the 19th century Urban Le Verrier,  a French scientist responded to a storm that had devastated the French fleet during the Crimean War by mapping the storm’s path showing how it could have been avoided thus saving ships and lives.

Other scientists, namely Francis Galton and Robert Fitzroy,  gathered weather information across England for October 1861 and plotted the data creating the first known weather map.

Weather maps also provide information for aviation showing ceiling height (level where at least half the sky is covered with clouds) in hundreds of feet, present weather, as well as cloud cover, turbulence and icing maps.  Maps are also created showing bushfire risk, rainfall and extreme temperatures.

Computers and the internet now provide a service that I use daily.  No longer do I need to check the sky to see if it is going to rain- weatherzone tells me what to expect.

So, according to my calculations the weather on 12th December 2020 will be –

weather map


Fantasy maps represent a world of imagination,  perhaps taking natural geographical features and creating unique environments.  Many are incorporated in fictional works to represent that world in a visual form, enhancing the readers’ experience and understanding of the story.

“I made the map of the island; it was elaborately and (I thought) beautifully coloured; the shape of it took my fancy beyond expression; it contained harbours that pleased me like sonnets; and with the unconsciousness of the predestined I ticketed my performance Treasure Island.   I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe   The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see, or tuppenceworth of imagination to understand with.  No child but must remember laying his head in the grass, staring into the infinitesimal forest, and seeing it grow populous with fairy armies.  Somewhat in this way, as I pored upon my map of Treasure Island, the future characters of the book began to appear there visibly among imaginary woods; and their brown faces and bright weapons peeped out upon me from unexpected quarters, as the passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure, and these few square inches of a flat projection.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

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What may be considered a tradition was started by Stevenson when he created Treasure Island in 1883. Many  writers,  Rider Haggard, A A Milne and J R R Tolkein to name a few, incorporated mapping into their craft.  The map increased reader involvement and understanding of the tale being put before them.


Mapping has evolved from providing directions for safe entry to harbours for example,  or how to get from A to B and back to buy a bottle of milk, and is now approached in a more creative way. One aspect of mapping that I have been exploring is that of mind mapping.  Mind maps are created with words or images.  It is a way of visually organising information relating to a nominated idea.  This is generally placed in the centre of the page with relating ideas radiating outward from the central point.  It can be hand drawn, providing a quick way to map ideas in a meeting for example, or it can be carefully constructed using computer software such as those listed on Lifehacker as the five best mind mapping tools . Tony Buzan, a British writer and television presenter introduced and popularised the concept of mind maps around 1974,  when he hosted a program entitled “Use your Head” on BBC TV.  A companion book was published elaborating on his idea of a radial tree structure. His suggested approach when creating mind maps was:

  • Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours
  • Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map
  • Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters
  • Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line
  • The lines should be connected, starting from the central image.
  • The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the centre
  • Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support
  • Use multiple colours throughout the mind map
  • Develop your own personal style of mind mapping
  • Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map
  • Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.07.14 am Along similar lines is the concept map which may have multiple groupings of ideas. Untitled (8)


Map mScreen Shot 2015-03-12 at 3.08.39 pmaking or “cartography”, grew from the need to  explain a concept in visual form.  It is thought that the oldest known maps were made of clay in Babylon around 2300BC.

The ancient Greeks accepted the concept of a round world with Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy) creating a world map covering latitudes of around 60°N to 30°S.

He is also credited with writing “Guide to Geography” (Geographike Hyphygesis) which was the “go to” book until the Renaissance.

Religion dominated map making in Medieval times, with Jerusalem placed in the centre with East, not North,  at the top.   A common format was a T and O map (orbis terrarum, orb or circle of the lands; with the letter T inside an O) where Jerusalem was depicted at the centre.  These were also known as  Beatine/Beatus map –  thought to have been created by Beatus of Liebana  (8C Spanish monk). and presented in the prologue to his commentaries on the Apocalypse.  Maps in those times were hand drawn making availability limited.

Maps became more available with the invention of printing in the 15th century.  At first they were printed with carved wooden blocks.  Sebastian Münster, (Basel,  Switzerland) created “Geographica” in 1540 which became the standard format for the time.  Engraved copper plates were introduced in the 16th century.  These were used until photography was invented and techniques refined.

With increased world exploration in 15th and 16th centuries came the need for navigational charts showing coast lines and other important information.

Following voyages by Columbus and others to the New World, “whole world” maps began to appear,  with the first believed to have been created by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507.  This map was the first to use the name America.