Sunday’s Best: Ed Fairburn’s Vintage Map Canvas

I have always loved the word cartography – been fascinated by maps since I was child, strung them up across my small apartment. There is something magical about the tangibility, the world in your hands. Artist Ed Fairburn uses vintage maps as his canvas for elaborate portraiture work. The inventive reuse of these maps, already lovely one their own, combined with the realist ink and pencil portraits he creates makes for unique and time stopping art. Fairburn uses the topography of every map to realize the piece, so mountains and rivers, street and stoplights, and dips in this earth become the shapes and bends of human beings – they look as if they were waiting to be discovered within the layout of land itself. There is a wonderful interview on Yatzer where Fairburn talk about his process. Enjoy.


“Through my studies of the human form I examine the patterns and structures which exist across the body. I disassemble those structures and reconstruct them onto pre-patterned surfaces, including maps. The creative process involves synchronising both subject and surface. I search for similarities between the characteristics of the human figure and the topographical features of the map, resulting in a unique amalgamation.” – Ed Fairburn

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