Psychogeography, the aimless wandering or drifting through cities to discover hidden its corridors, has somewhat fallen out of favor as a term. In London, some flaneurs or urban adventurers Nick Papadimitriou and Will Self prefer the term “deep topography.” Semantics aside, the idea of exploring a city without any real goals or directions—unlike modern tourism—is a fascinating thing to do, especially in Old Blighty. British artist Fuller, uninterested in terms for these aimless drifts, recently completed a psychogeographical map of London.
Titled London Town, Fuller’s illustrated map aims to convey “the unmistakable vibe of the ultimate metropolis.” The work is, as Fuller tells The Creators Project, a “playful” and more personal brand of psychogeography that also grew out of an interest in cartography. Fuller drew the piece over 10 years, from 2005 to 2015, with black ink on archival cotton board. The unveiling of London Town took place inside the St. Pancras Clock Tower in London.
“Instantly recognisable not just by the emblematic landmarks but also by the enchanting chaos beloved of all who know this crazy, pulsating, ever-changing but ever-beautiful world city,” Fuller writes of London Town. “Delve into the drawings: the unstoppable skyscrapers, the raw decadence, the infinite energy, the limitless creativity and the ceaseless urban expansion—all recreated here as a testament to a great city and its unbridled future.”
Fuller says he has always enjoyed exploring, especially getting lost. For him, cities are the ultimate platform to observe contemporary culture, and drawing emotive maps provides the opportunity to physically investigate our urban existence while making visually engaging art. They tell stories, provoke conversation or debate, and celebrate the identity of places in all their glory.
“The idea to create London Town mostly came from a burning desire to take on the challenge of drawing the metropolis in a new and innovative way,” Fuller says, who created a similar map for the city of Bristol. “I was a bit fed up with my career at the time, too. I made a rule that I couldn't use words to describe any of the contents in the work. Everything is pictorial accept for a collection of common symbols.”
The reason London Town took 10 years to make is because he really need to “get under the city's skin and understand its personality.” The city thus became a large chapter in his life, archived for extended periods and moving around the city as Fuller did. All told, London Town is the result of over a thousand hours of drawing and countless hours of research.
“Part of my methodology is to experience places fully, spending considerable time investigating, researching and obtaining stories,” Fuller says. “An example could be a new government or mayor taking over—shifts in social history trigger changes in the culture of a city. These types of experiences give me a greater understanding of the place. I remember in particular the global financial crash in 2008. It had a devastating effect on the moral of the city and this can be seen in my drawings.”
Fuller plans to begin drawing another city this year, and is starting what he calls his “most major work,” which is a little hush-hush right now.
“A new city means relocating and building a new knowledge base,” says Fuller. “It would be beneficial to utilise technology more in my research, especially documenting my exploring. We're so fortunate to have digital tools which free up more time for the traditional craft of drawing with ink. I'm always on the look out for new mapping and art tech.”
Click here to see more of Fuller’s work, where physical prints of London Town can be ordered.