Its true! I DO like to be beside the seaside. And as many of us can’t travel right now, for those in the UK, a trip to the British coast is definitely on the cards this summer. Ice cream, seagulls, fish and chips on a pebbly beach, a cold paddle in the Channel and a wind-embraced walk down a good old fashioned pier. My home town of Brighton is the epitome of all of this for the many tourists who enjoy the madly colourful seafront, but for me, as a local, there are other alternative ways to see the city.
All cities can be experienced through the filter of history – not just ‘guidebook-past’ but personal history too. Your first visit will forever colour your understanding of a place…
One of the earliest maps I ever created was a map of Brighton, covered in notes of my personal experience mixed with the heritage of this fine, yet scoundrelous, city. I include tales of studio life, lunchtime bagels, beach BBQs, bad dates and broken hearts dancing unashamedly with invading Vikings, exiled Huguenots, and the winking mistresses of Regency Georges.
You can read the notes on the Map of Brighton from the Latest Discoveries more clearly here .
Stories make places, for sure, and some stories are more true than others. This Map of Ghostly Brighton above was created last Halloween, the voices of lost spirits rising from the city streets. These are stories from the past too but they constantly morph into new entities as the reason for the telling and the place itself changes.
If ghosts don’t worry you, there’s the Brighton you used to experience at night once the (pre-pandemic) revellers had all sloped home. 4am is a magic moment, wobbling on the axis of dark and light with only a faint line of rose on the horizon and the city, reduced to a series of angular indigo blocks. Breathe in the happy silence before the chaos begins again. This map above was created as a proposed mural for design company MMoser for Unity Technologies.
As part of the same project, this map was an alternative proposal for the mural. Taking the London tube map as a reference, I imagined how a Brighton tube might look based on the existing transit systems if cars are no longer sustainable and trains are the future. What would the city look like if all the roads and the tourist traffic jams were removed? What colour would creep back? Maps can chart a future as well as a past.
Walk the pavements often enough though, and you’ll realise how much wilderness pushes through the concrete, even now. This is a map commissioned by ONCA Gallery taking you on a nature walk from the pier to the gallery accompanied by the seabirds and pigeons, the bats and butterflies, the smart urban fox. It shouldn’t be forgotten that we share our city with many non-human others…
Brighton is a place of multiple layers. I hadn’t realised till writing this post, how much a source of inspiration it has been for me over the years and how many ways one place can be experienced and mapped. Perhaps, next time you take a daytrip to the coast, forget your British reserve and spark up a chat with a local. Who knows what riches you’ll find in corners beyond the seafront carnival.
Prints of ‘A Map of Brighton from the Latest Discoveries‘ are available to buy in a variety of colour versions, some hand finished in gold leaf. (Just get in touch for details).