Having written a book, I have a new-found respect for people who see a passion project through to the end. Especially if it’s as intense as this one – a hand-drawn map of Brighton which took its creator, Malcolm Davis, local artist and illustrator, a whole year to draw. Admittedly, he was a bit of an expert though having already drawn one of his nearby hometown of Lewes. “These are huge projects,” he says. “Without completing the first map, I would never have dreamed of illustrating most of Brighton in one shot.”
Where did you start? “I looked at an existing map of the city, checked out aerial shots and used Google Earth. Once I’d mapped it out in pencil on an A1 piece of board, I started researching interesting historical facts. It then became a massive plotting exercise matching historical events, people and places onto the map.”
This is the part he loved the most. “I felt I was bringing history back to life. I realised that Dr Samuel Johnson and the novelist Fanny Burney both stayed at the same house in West Street at a similar time but rarely wrote anything complimentary about each other.”
Did you go mad drawing the same thing for a whole year? “Yes quite mad! Although I found doing small bits at a time is the key to staying sane. Towns and cities naturally form blocks, so I’d always aim to do at least two blocks a day, depending on the size of the block. After a while, I would get absorbed in it I actually got a bit of anxiety at the thought of finishing it!
Did you learn anything surprising about Brighton in the process? “It’s so much bigger than I realised, and there’s a lot more to it! I’ve also plenty more interesting elements to add if I update it. What I love about the finished map is that you can see something new every time you look at it.”
Malcolm’s Brighton Map is available to buy at the Lewes Map Store, an online shop of curated local products, which he runs with his partner, photographer, Dörte Januszewski. (Ellie & Co readers can take 10% off Brighton Map prints by using code ‘ELLIEANDCO’ at the checkout.)