Spotlight on Stephen Walter: Mapping Artistic Landscapes
Join us on a journey into the captivating world of Stephen Walter, an artist whose work explores the interplay between place and meaning. Born in London with English and German heritage, Stephen’s artistic journey has been a call to express, explore, and reimagine the world around us.
Stephen’s fascination with mapping and the concept of place is at the core of his artistic practice. Through intricate drawing techniques, he weaves detailed and layered worlds that delve beyond geography, exploring history, philosophy and politics, forming visual representations of language, culture and place.
Join us for an exclusive interview as we journey into Stephen’s artistic odyssey. From his childhood drawings of imagined cities to his large-scale intricate maps, we explore how his art serves as a connection to places both real and fictional.
Pictured Above: from Stephens collection with Newmor New Halewood
How did you get into your career as a Fine Artist?
I guess I have always been drawn to an artistic life – it was a calling of some kind. Making work and mark making through certain processes and mediums is a form of catharsis for me.
I remember making a drawing of a ruined and deserted city as a child. It has always stuck in my memory as the first pictorial and conceptual expression that I made. There was also a cork wall beside my bed – I used to send myself to sleep by imagining figures and faces in the wall.
I was a strong pupil in my art class at school and I thank Mr Ashley West for guiding me through my Art GCSE and A Level at QE Boys, Barnet. This led to me choosing an Art & Design Foundation at Middlesex, and Fine Art at University. It was on my first day at the Royal College of Art and the inspirational speech by Rector Christopher Frayling that fixed my mind on being an artist, and I have been on that course ever since.
What inspires your work?
I have always thought of landscape as being a receptacle for meaning. One of the reasons why I make maps is that they allow me to include a very wide range of interests. My cartographic works of both real and fictional places are a tangle of words, symbols and drawn or painted elements. Many contain autobiographical references, historical epithets, hidden associations and wider contradictions, where cultural and epistemic residues inhabit certain locations alongside new and established landmarks. All of them celebrate the glory of maps and geography, and the act of exploration.
All of your work is hand drawn – how do you stay focussed when working on such intricate and time-consuming pieces?
Very long sessions in the studio with plenty of breaks and naps on the sofa bed. It’s hard to get into the work some days, it can take hours just to start. The tedious nature of it can drive me mad sometimes. Then I go and work paid jobs for someone else and come back and realise how lucky I am. You just have to be disciplined.
Pictured Above: from Stephens collection with Newmor Hub
Some of your works with Newmor focus on location. What does location mean to you and how does it influence your work?
I love to explore and discover new places. The navigating and the recording of these, form a springboard for many of my projects, many of which then require extensive research. London is my home town, so I will always make work about it.
The more urbanized a place becomes – the more dynamic its sense of place. Associations become less fixed and staid. It is almost as if in a city ideas and people’s desires can redefine a place. This is different from more rural areas where the place is more influential on the definition of its people. I like both, and find that phenomenon very interesting.
Pictured above: from Stephens collection with Newmor Map of Liverpool
What has been your most rewarding project to work on?
It’s hard to say, but making my map called Brexitland, 2019, more than any other piece I can remember, it allowed me to vent out a deep frustration and helped me let the thing go. Maps are inherently political.
It portrays a country where everywhere that voted for Remain has been flooded by the sea, leaving only the Brexit voting areas. Here, the letters of its place names have fallen off like dilapidated signs. It offered me a way to exercise that particular demon. Even though it proved not to be commercially successful – like who wants Brexit on the walls; I remain glad that I drew that particular line in the sand.
Pictured Above: from Stephens collection with Newmor The Island
As a fine artist, how have you had to adapt your work for different end uses – our wallcoverings for example?
My work is born out of a fascination with the vast and detailed complexities of our world. The urge to express this in my original works creates a new layer within often flat looking images. These small details create a mass that is unreadable from a distance but decipherable and creates its own perspective.
In order to translate this into other mediums, a lot of neatening up processes on the computer and playing around with scale is needed.
Place – Glastonbury Tor, Foreign country – France.
Food – Sushi.
Drink – Red Wine. Actually it’s obviously got to be water.
Music – My favourite band at the minute is The War on Drugs, but this changes all the time. Reggae, Funk, Hip-hop, Acoustic, Techno and Drum n Base (in no particular order).
Movie – Apocalypse Now, The Two Towers, Star Wars…..
TV show – The News
Pictured above: from Stephens collection with Newmor Hub
Discover more of Stevens remarkable work at www.stephenwalter.org
and explore his exclusive wallcovering collections with Newmor at newmor.com/designer/stephen-walter/. Prepare to be inspired!
See Stevens work in our digital design brochure here
You can find Steven on Instagram at www.instagram.com/stephen.walter.artist/