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November 11, 2008

Maps and landscape: the work of Ronald Lampitt

The work of the little-known illustrator Ronald Lampitt is featured in this post on Diaphania, the blog of my colleague David Woodward at Reading. David refers to an earlier post on English Buildings which is also of interest, and not only for its gem of a throwaway comment about Horrible Histories near the end (take note Alice)!

Back to the focus of the post, Lampitt's 1948 children's book The map that came to life, published by OUP. You can see the whole book in spreads here, which gives you a good idea of the structure of the story as well as the layout.


The volume opens with images of the map two children will follow on their walk, and most spreads thereafter see small text blocks enveloped by a sprawling bucolic landscape. The bird's eye 'near view' is close enough to pull the reader in, and small segments of the original map are set into the text, allowing readers to compare the 'real' landscape with the abstract language of maps.


The close-up above shows the flat areas of colour and crayon-like texture of the drawing. This suggests Lampitt may have used lithography, perhaps with an intermediary textured substrate for the rough effect. It is really beautifully done, simple and effortless in its appearance.

David points out that Lampitt also worked on the Ladybird book Understanding maps (1967), as well as this wonderful illustration of an ideal city -- you'll notice a legend which points you to all they key elements, pieced together from buildings and monuments around the world! Fabulous. The dramatic natural landscape imposes itself in this illustration. It is on par with the built environment, as it is in The map that came to life.