Mapping Muswell - An N10 Paper Project  



Maps have traditionally been projected as a 'view from nowhere' produced objectively as a tool for way finding. The increased accessibility to information and technology in the last twenty years has opened up the process of map-making to become a more embodied practice in which counter cartographies are able to challenge the status quo. In the hands of artists, mapping becomes a practice with which to personally explore the different ways we live our lives, and readdress established power relationships, giving agency to people and places previously left off of the map.

For Mapping Muswell Anya Beaumont has created a sculptural relief map that combines her own intricate working methods and interpretation of the locality with materials and memories from residents of this London area. The artist has participated in interviews, meetings and presentations in the neighbourhood and produced a blog and website to document the process. The result is a multi-faceted creative project that mediates between past, present and future.
The artist's starting point for the work are maps of the area, a contemporary street map and one from 1898 from which she cuts away everything but the streets to create a paper filigree. This fragile paper cut is then suspended and the artist traces its shadow onto paper to create an iteration of the area. This is then cut and the process is repeated, the multiple layers taking on their own form, an individual route of the neighbourhood. Each layer is produced from donated paper from local libraries, schools, businesses and public buildings.  This foundation to the relief includes extracts from books, snippets of letters, cuts of wallpaper, strips of sheet music, all revealing fragments of the life of the area and its residents. 
Within these folds and shadows the viewer can find smaller details, inspired by the artist's own wanderings. A network of delicate branches creep in all directions from the body of a tree in Coldfall woods, mimicking the road arteries in which it is nestled.  An old menu from the Clissold Arms is transformed into the entrance gates of the old hospital on Coppetts Road. The care taken to cut this delicate frame reflecting the building's former use and the fragility of the lives nursed there. These are weaved between photocopied maps with broken, wobbly letters of the street names, that echo the surface of the roads, the marks made are traces of the people that have travelled them. 
Anya's energy and enthusiasm has enabled news of the project to travel and her collection of stories, memories and fantasies of the area has grown through her contact with different communities. The 'map-me' activity which she took to local schools, residencies at the Local Gallery and Muswell Hill Library and other community events encouraged people to draw or write about their favourite spots. Combined with her fragile filigrees these personal documents created by residents of all ages add colour and local characters to the work. 
At a time when regeneration in some parts of London threatens to erase or at least sanitise spaces in which communities can share such memories and experiences, Anya's work is an important reminder of the colour and depth that should be protected. Led by the subjectivity of the map-maker and the people she has met this project is not an attempt to map everything in the area nor preserve a vision of an ideal community. Rather it combines materials old and new to create a unique mapping of the neighbourhood, a new space, that alludes to the past, represents the present and points towards possible futures. 

Alice Lobb is a curator, organiser and writer based in London.


You can hear Anya talking about this project earlier in the year on this podcast with LJ Filotrani from Muswell Hill Media's production 'The N10 Show'.


The work is now complete and on display in Muswell Hill Library and can viewed during normal library opening hours.

Please take a look at this video (link below). It shows Anya talking about the work in the summer during the Library residency.