Shaun Levin

Writer. Maker of Maps

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Everything's Close to Home

Day 1: 5 March, 2014

Everything I need is in walking distance. I grew up near most of my cousins, my grandparents and friends, within easy walking distance of the shops, the synagogue, nursery school, the beach, the park. Wherever I've lived I've lived in walking distance from most of the places that are important to me in the day to day. The street I live on now, far away from the cities I grew up in, is a long street that, like many long streets in London, changes it's name every two hundred metres.

My gym is close by, and the cafes I like, and my barber and the chemist, and the shop that sells great pastries during Ramadan, and the library.

I want to map this street and also use this mapping exercise to explore the other neighbourhoods I've lived in, in Port Elizabeth, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Stoke Newington, and now in Highbury, not far from the Arsenal football stadium.

To paraphrase Frank O'Hara: I am not an illustrator, I am a writer. I think I would rather be an illustrator, but I am not.

This is the beginning of the exploration:

I work a lot with designers and illustrators on the Writing Maps I've created in collaboration with them. The maps are my vision, though I'd love to be able to do the illustrating of them, as well. So, this project is an experiement in going it alone and doing the illustration on my own! It's kind of a continuation of another sort-of mapping project I did of a park I love.

Day 2: 6 March, 2014

At dinner we agreed the city is only manageable if we turn it into a village, shrink its perimeters/parameters. Some parts of the city we don't go to. It's easier to imagine a trip to Amsterdam than it is to Hammesmith.

I land up visiting the same stories. Layers of parks and barbershops and cafes, places I visited when I was 10, then 20, then 30, then 40, now 50, piled on top of each other. But is that the reality. What is now? What is new and only itself?

Words is where I am comfortable. So I'm starting there. At some point I will take pictures. Tomorrow she's coming for lunch, so maybe we will take pictures. A little walk from my doorstep. Maybe. Sometimes I think that to start this project is to start to say goodbye to this part of town, or to this city.

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