Features

Reconfiguring the map

The GAC was approached by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 2007 to commission art for the new British Embassy in Doha, Qatar. Designed by architects Jordan + Bateman, the new Embassy boasts a cool, contemporary interior with many walls faced with stone or wood.

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The GAC suggested a commissioned work, which would be integrated into the fabric of the building. A large meeting room, overlooking the main lobby was considered the ideal location, as it can be seen by visitors as well as Embassy staff. In this podcast, the chosen artist Jonathan Parsons, discusses his project which evolved from his fascination with maps of the region (image 1).

'Let Me Count the Ways' (2008) presents Parsons' preoccupation with maps through three-dimensional sculptural forms, displayed within a wall-sized glass vitrine. Commenting on his work, Parsons has said:

'Maps are systems of visual communication with agreed conventions that, when followed, enable them to function. By extracting partial images from maps, I remove most of their conventions (such as recognition, orientation and labelling). This robs the maps of their function and turns them into 'pictures' from a given source.'

As a student Parsons developed a highly conceptual artistic practice that is underpinned by academic investigation into visual semiotics (the study of signs and symbols). Parsons is interested in how marks are given meaning: how shapes become symbolic of other things.

Jonathan Parsons was born in Redhill, Surrey. He attended Goldsmiths College in London between 1989 and 1992, and his first solo exhibitions were held in London and Leamington Spa in 1996. He was one of a group of artists whose work was exhibited as part of the infamous exhibition 'Sensation: Young British Artists' from the Saatchi Collection at the Royal Academy in London (1997), which subsequently toured to the Hamberger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York (1999).






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