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South London Dreaming

Mapwalk: Seen From Above: South London Dreaming

acrylic on paper on board
88 x 152 cm

Notes on this work

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Many artists took to their heels in the early seventies and much art, including some of my own, involved walking. Though others seemed drawn to romantic and misty horizons I was concerned more with reinforcing my familiarity with what Police-Inspectors on TV refer to as my own "patch".

Under the influence of those Peruvian land-drawings that can only be seen from a flying saucer and the more tentatively hypothetical Glastonbury Zodiac (things which were literally very much in the air at the time) I attempted to find if there were similar cryptic signs hidden in the layout of South East London streets, or to derive from the map of that area some pregnant ideograms of my own. Peckham is not Peru however, and it was harder than I thought to extrapolate symbols of any great eloquence from these mean streets.

The first study, made at the end of 1972, was a promising failure, but the second edged towards the kind ofelegant glyph I had in mind. It started, as I should have known such things must, at a site already imbued with magical associations as it marks its initial flourish with a circumambulation of the Oval Cricket Ground. Its corresponding finial turned out to be prophetic in that it passes through what fifteen years later was to become my studio at Bellenden Road.

Having thus plotted the symbolic shape I was duty bound to trudge this six-mile sign, only to find that at ground level I apprehended no magical feeling whatsoever. It was shortly after this, when trying to walk a perfect circle around my house at a radius of half a mile, that I developed the scheme that became 20 sites n years.

See the development of this subject in the 20 sites n years section and a related print in the Editions section.