CAROLINE Harper spent last summer in York, working as an art director on ITV1’s offbeat legal drama Eternal Law, and the city so impressed her that she has created a hand-drawn map of the streets.
“A few of us in the cast and crew fell a little bit in love with your city and I guess this map was the result of my particular love affair,” says Caroline, who lives in South East London but travels around the country for months at a time with her filming projects.
And before you ask, her map depicts York as it really is, and not York as re-configured in the on-going TV series with the law courts transformed into York Hospital, the Mansion House and Guildhall entrance becoming the court, etc, etc.
“No, my head would have exploded if I’d tried to do that map!” says Caroline. “The Twitter feed during the airing of the first episode was highly amusing. ‘Yorkonians’ were outraged by the market in St Helen’s Square. Mutinous almost...”
Caroline started drawing maps after visiting the Magnificent Map exhibition at the British Library last year.
“In particular the work of Stephen Walter blew me away,” she says. “It doesn’t happen very often but on seeing his picture, The Island, I felt compelled to put pen to paper and produce my own detailed illustrated maps.”
Caroline originally drew maps as presents, first for friends opening a coffee shop in Clerkenwell and then for her mother when she moved from the family home.
“It feels terribly cathartic to study a particular area and record a comprehensive personal memoir and it’s so satisfying to watch people enjoy them,” she says. “I sold a copy of the York map to the landlady of a York colleague; she literally seemed to want to devour it, she was enjoying it so much.”
Caroline draws maps in cultural, architectural, geographical, historical and mythological detail and what most struck her above all else in York was the Minster. “The Eternal Law production office was housed in the old Purey Cust Hospital, so working next to York Minster was a daily highlight,” she says.
“The Minster is a bit like the Taj Mahal; you think you’ve seen it, taken it in and fully appreciated it and then you see it in a slightly different light at a slightly different time of day in a slightly different weather condition and its grandeur hits you all over again.” Choosing what goes on each map is very personal. “The map of York represents my experience of the city, so it included places where we filmed, such as Grays Court, the Castle Museum, Mansion House and York Art Gallery, and places we enjoyed outside work hours, such as the Guy Fawkes Inn, the River Ouse, Caesars, the Khao San Road Thai restaurant, D’Claire and the City Screen cinema,” she says.
“I also made a point of including well-loved York landmarks like Bettys and, my personal favourite, the clock, with its little admiral, on Coney Street.”
She has newly set up a website, carolineharper.com, to document, publicise and market all the maps she has created so far – York, Dartmoor, Welwyn Garden City, Hampstead & Highgate and Primrose Hill in London – along with a Me-Map to tell you about the artist.
The York map is available as a 420mm by 420mm silk screen print in a limited edition of 150, priced at £60, unframed, or £120, bespoke framed.
“The prints are professionally float-mounted within a black or white-painted wooden box frame, and delivery options are available on request,” says Caroline, who can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or on 07712 007003.
Her head is “bursting with ideas” of new places to map out. “You say it; I want to draw a map of it,” she says.
After spending most of 2011 working on projects away from home, 39-year-old Caroline is enjoying living and working in London again. “I have many more ideas for maps, maybe a fictional one to illustrate a certain flagship BBC East End soap I’m now working on,” she says.