Book Review: London Unfurled By Matteo Pericoli

By M@ Last edited 105 months ago
Book Review: London Unfurled By Matteo Pericoli

Have you ever held a book that is seven times your height?

London Unfurled is a remarkable, accordion-style object (book is perhaps the wrong word) containing an even more remarkable panorama. Artist Matteo Pericoli has painstakingly drawn the Thames riverscape, on both north and south banks, between Hammersmith and Greenwich. It's all here; every building, bridge, pier, chimney, steeple. The Shard looms out of the page, half-built. The angles shift and warp, depending on the artist's choice of vantage point.

Pericoli has never lived in London and was largely unfamiliar with the banks of the Thames when he started the project. "The act of drawing engraved the city into my brain," he says. In an insightful Afterward, Pericoli describes the progress of his drawing. At the half-way stage he found himself in the unusual position of knowing every single detail of one bank of the Thames, while the other remained a complete unknown.

London Unfurled is a unique coffee-table book; unique in the sense that you won't have a coffee table long enough to contain it. Parents might also employ it as the world's longest colouring-in book, keeping the little ones occupied for much of their childhood. Short essays by Will Self and Iain Sinclair, both on good form, introduce the project.

As if the object wasn't novel enough, a version is also available for iPad. Here, you can scroll through the two panoramas and tap on specific buildings for more information, including an audio guide. You can also frame sections of the drawing and mail it off as a virtual postcard. The author demonstrates the app in the video below.

London Unfurled by Matteo Pericoli is out now from Picador. Buy here. The iPad app is available for iPad for £7.99.

Last Updated 12 October 2011