Your life on a map — a Toronto cartographer turned artist is doing it

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Metro Toronto: An impossible map hangs on Andrew Alfred-Duggan’s wall.

From a distance, it’s familiar, the colour and markings akin to your standard city map. But if the scale is to be believed, Toronto’s Union Station is a stop away from Paris’ Abbesses metro station and Collingwood looks out over Palmerston Island, a coral atoll in the midst of the Pacific Ocean.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to anyone except me and my wife because it’s all our places mixed together; a journal on a piece of paper,” explains Alfred-Duggan, from his map-riddled apartment in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood. “Place, it’s everything.”

After 15 years travelling around the world as a professional cartographer, intimately studying and designing maps of 80 cities, the demise of the paper mapmaking industry caught up to Alfred-Duggan in 2012.

But an invitation by a friend to contribute to an installation in the Distillery Exhibit caused him to reflect on the role of place in our lives. Although he didn’t consider himself an artist at the time, Alfred-Duggan decided to tweak a map of Manhattan, dropping the Forbidden City of Beijing where Central Park would be.

“My friend said ‘you should do this for people,'” recalls Alfred-Duggan.  Read more.

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