THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Maps and the 20th Century

Maps and the 20th Century at the British Library is an educational and aesthetic wonder – the history of the century is told so eloquently and convincingly through its maps.


Here we have maps as paintings and paintings as maps, maps that tell the future and mourn the past, maps that charm: the post-traumatic 1918 map of Fairyland, and maps that might offend: all that hubristic pink in the possessions of the British Empire.

The maps of conflict are among the most extraordinary: a 1914 map showing countries as animals biting and clawing at one another, or a minutely detailed Soviet map of poor little Brighton hinting at some nefarious intention.

Scale is obviously key in mapping and there is such poetry in the minor becoming major and vice versa: a little globe not of the earth but the moon, or Jeremy Wood’s GPS autobiography, a spidery white line documenting all his movements around London over the past sixteen years.

Exhibition continues until 1 March 2017, more information here.

Written by Chris Kenny.

Okko Hotel, Grenoble Jardins Hoche

The hotel scene in Grenoble is tired and old-fashioned, with few options for stylish travellers. The new Okko Hotel is changing that, with their modern urban accommodation.

Okko Hotel Grenoble

The lift on the ground floor will transport to up to level 1 where a quick and easy check-in takes place. There are Classic and Premium rooms to choose from, both of which offer custom-made Cocomat bed covered in Italian crumpled linen, Nespresso machine, walk-in shower & bathroom and cosmetics from Nuxe. Our classic bedroom felt small but functional, with everything we needed for a short weekend break.

Okko Hotel GrenobleOkko hotel grenoble

The bedrooms are cleverly designed with asymmetrical features throughout. A small desk allows business guests to work, while a leather sofa and flatscreen tv are a tempting option for those who need to unwind after a long journey.

Okko Hotel GrenobleOkko Hotel Grenoble

All the Okko Hotels have a Club area, which allows guests to relax with a drink or snack, read or work. In the Grenoble hotel the Club space is open and light with contemporary furniture providing a welcoming room to spend time in. During the day delicious little cakes, juices and bottles of water are available and complimentary for all guests.

Okko hotel grenoble

After a good night’s sleep we wandered downstairs, where a light continental buffet breakfast of is served in the Club lounge. We took our pastries and coffees out to the terrace, to enjoy the fresh air and view over the city.

The Okko Hotel in Grenoble was the perfect place to rest our heads during our short time in the city. Functional but fun, this centrally located hotel is comfortable, luxurious and stress-free.

Chris Kenny Grenoble

While in Grenoble don’t miss the Chris Kenny exhibition at the Musee Hebert, a magical collection of works which feel wonderfully at home in this beautiful building.

More information and book a stay at Okko Hotel, Grenoble Jardins Hoche here.


The thought of interrupting one’s Provencal holiday with a visit to an exhibition about cities in a stuffy museum doesn’t sound at all agreeable. However Toulon’s Hotel des Arts is an oasis of cool and the current show, Villissima! is a pleasure from start to finish. Curator-philosopher Guillaume Monsaingeon follows up his highly acclaimed 2013 map art show, Mappamundi, with another thought-provoking exploration of geography and how humans transform it.

The exhibition does not take the predictable dystopian approach to urban living instead it attempts to celebrate people’s ingenuity and invention, the pragmatism displayed when we have to share very limited space and the curious cultural results of living together in this close proximity. That is not to say there is a lack of darkness – on entering, one immediately encounters Mathieu Pernot’s photographs of tower blocks frozen in mid-demolition, chilling images of modern buildings in their death throes.

The discrepancies of scale are examined by several artists, most notably in Tony Cragg’s faux minimalist ‘Three Modern Buildings’ made from simple stacks of salvaged breeze blocks, and Julia Montilla’s diminutive city of artfully folded medicine capsule packs.

The insectiness of people streaming down streets, tunnels and staircases is captured brilliantly in Alexey Titarenko’s slow exposure photographs that record the buildings as static but with the crowds as blurred tides washing over them. The complex geometric patterning of the metropolis is enjoyed in the work of many – for instance flatly in the graphic assemblages of Nigel Peake and expansively in the luminous plexiglass city of Bodys Isek Kingeles from the Congo.

Villissima! takes a refreshing new look at city life, proposing that we must accept it, not so much with the cool observational haughtiness of the flaneur but instead as a component in a huge and wondrous organic machine, forever reinventing itself and us at the same time.

Continues at Hotel des Arts, Toulon until 27th September. More information here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Chris Kenny.