In 2022 I won the commission from Glasgow City Heritage Trust to update Thomas Sulman’s aerial map of Glasgow, dating from 1864. Information on the original drawing can be found here https://gallusglasgow.glasgowheritage.org.uk
Adapting Thomas Sulman’s use of an aerial view to my repertoire of plan, section and elevation was an exciting and challenging technical opportunity which has extended my practice. Taking my lead from Sulman’s drawing and the Trust’s brief I welcomed the opportunity to contribute to Galllus Glasgow. I was confident that I could produce a work to encourage and enable people to see the city of today afresh, with its’ changing skyline, busy motorways and bridges, and pedestrian thoroughfares. To see across the whole city from ‘the gods’ and yet, at the same time be able to be place oneself within each and every street to view its life and buildings, is the joy of such a drawing.
I proposed to use Sulman’s drawing as the base layer, ensuring that the commissioned work is the same physical size and scope as Sulman’s original and will align with it. The brief for me was about paying homage to the original map, rather than strictly accurately mapping Glasgow of today. There will be digital models, and satellite imagery that does this already; rather, I wanted to make the most of Sulman’s Drawing, and allow the viewer to reflect on the city today, the city of 1864, and propose the city of the future by seeing the tow comparable drawings.
To accommodate the timescale and complexity of producing a drawing – showing buildings at scale, accurately placed in perspective onto the complex topography of the city; the Sulman drawing was used as the ‘framework’ onto which the present day city was ‘grafted’. Many roads and buildings depicted in the original remain, so it was a case of working out how the intervening infrastructure and buildings fit within this. This allowed me to engage with the scale and detail of Sulman’s drawings of buildings, ensuring that the similar detail is possible. Physically tracing Sulman’s hand offered an even greater opportunity to understand the original and for it to inform the production of the new work, achieving detail and making marks at the same scale as the original. Working from the original means that this new work is effectively a new layer, whereby buildings and roads that were in the original drawing, are in the same place in the new work. Creating a physical drawing also enabled the two works to be hung alongside one another, allowing the viewer to draw comparisons, as well as adding a new layer digitally to the Gallus Glasgow Website. This can be found here https://gallusglasgow.glasgowheritage.org.uk