Elements of Maps and ‘horror vacui’

As my artwork nears completion I am considering whether or not it needs any other elements added to it. Old maps drawn up by specialist cartographers had very little empty space. My Map of Mindfulness has a couple of areas at the top where I am wondering if they need some detail adding. (Sometimes it’s best to stop rather than ruin a piece of artwork by adding unnecessary details!) I researched elements of maps in Google and found a really informative article from the New York Public Library https://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/01/06/elements-cartography. This explains all about legends, cartouches (I thought those only appeared on ancient Egyptian tombs), shields usually that of the patron, compass roses and whimsy. My map is mainly based on “whimsy” so it doesn’t need any more of that, I also considered a cartouche for the top right corner, replacing a sun. A compass rose is not really needed either as my map multi directional and spiritual, within the mind there is no “north”. A legend is not needed either as there is no distance in the mind, it’s infinite.

I watched a You Tube video posted by the New York Map Society of Chet Van Duzer (Cartography Historian, UC Berkeley ) presenting a talk on “Cartographers’ Fear of Blank Spaces: with savage pictures fill their gaps“. He discusses “horror vacui” (Latin – pronounced ‘horror vakwee’) of historical cartographers : “how empty spaces on maps were¬†consumed by text, ships, sea monsters and other embellishments that were designed for that very purpose.” (Van Duzer, 2020). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg5UUGzossI

I sent images of my artwork to several friends, peers and asked family for their opinions “better with or without”? It was a 50/50 split and the words of an artish friend echoed in my head “The times I’ve ruined my artwork by adding that bit extra that didn’t need it”. My self doubt has been solved. I have no fear of empty spaces in my work, and drawing on the theories of Composition and negative space studied in a spring workshop, I am satisfied with this.