From Ordnance Survey maps and data to the essence of outdoor Britain
Artist, photographer and long-distance walker Daniella Turbin is walking the whole of Britain and capturing its essence along the way
Ordnance Survey (OS), you know, the map guys.
As an organisation that has spanned over two centuries, OS has rolled with the punches and diversified it’s offering on multiple occasions.
A significant early shift came in the 1920’s when OS started selling tourist maps. Moving on from military strategy and defence, OS employed its first ever artist in an attempt to sell tourist maps. Artist Ellis Martin’s iconic map covers boosted sales and soon maps were seen as essential by the general public.
Today OS is more than maps and has become world leaders in the provision of location data. Data linked to location, known as geospatial data, has the potential to change our lives for the better, improve our economy, create jobs and is fundamental to our everyday lives.
In fact, every adult in Great Britain interacts with OS location data an average of 42 times a day. From apps on our phones to the gas, water and electricity in our homes, our home deliveries, our broadband services, insurance, and all of the essential public services we use such as buses, waste collection and of course the emergency services.
But one thing that OS is not really known for is inspiring art. But that is where Daniella Turbin comes in.
Daniella, an artist, photographer and long-distance walker, has a real passion for OS maps. Her passion is so great that over the next 12 months she has set herself the challenge of walking the whole of Britain and taking pictures along the way.
“My passion for OS maps and walking was an accident really,” explained Daniella. “I was living in the Lake District and there were no busses, so I had no choice but to walk everywhere.
“I bought one map and then I got really interested in looking at the maps and trying to imagine the places on the maps. It has escalated from there and I have a massive collection now.”
In terms of inspiration, Daniella always has an OS map to hand. “It’s that thing of looking at the place on a map and travelling there to see what’s there. My work always starts by looking at the OS map every night before I go on a walk and I’ll be like, I wonder what that is? Well, I just walk there and see.
“OS maps gives me a starting point so it is invaluable in that respect but how it inspires me directly and how I can incorporate it into my drawings is something I am very conscious of right now. I’m still working on it; so it is something I’m thinking of at the moment rather than anything tangible.”
Daniella, a couple of months into her walking tour, has seen some beautiful places but cites the Shropshire Hills as her favourite spot so far, “even though it was raining, there is something comforting about being in the Shropshire Hills. Funnily enough now I’m approaching Hereford I’m sure I can see the Shropshire Hills again on the horizon so I’m doing a strange loop around.”
With the majority of her walking tour ahead of her, Daniella reflects on the freedom and confidence that map reading has afforded her: “Being able to plot a route and read a map has opened up a whole new world to me and has given me the freedom to explore places that I didn't know existed.
“I would urge everyone to learn some basic map reading skills. Learning how to read a map has given me access to places that are off the beaten track and discover some amazing places to photograph and capture, as well as the confidence to know that if I do get lost I can find my way back again.”
Ellis Martin captured the essence of outdoor Britain with his map covers in the 1920’s, and after walking through the whole of Britain in 2022, Daniella is best placed to do the same one hundred years later.
You can follow Daniella’s walking tour on her Instagram page @daniella_turbin
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