Escher’s Butterflies Migrating Over The Rivers of Africa

I’ve really found Escher’s work to be inspirational and it’s so nice to be able to take it into a new dimension. I re-imagined Escher’s Butterflies in one of my earlier posts and now I’ve finished mapping the whole continent’s rivers I’ve been able to realise a new, more complete, look for the idea.

Escher's Butterflies Migrating Over the Rivers of Africa
Escher’s Butterflies Migrating Over the Rivers of Africa

I particularly like the granularity and textures in each butterfly’s wings and bodies – if you look more closely you’ll see what I mean.

Detail of Escher's Butterflies Migrating Over the Rivers of Africa
Escher’s Butterflies Migrating Over the Rivers of Africa – Detail

Please check out my Instagram feed to find a selection of the Rivers of Africa images that I’ve been posting. Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these!

The Fish and Scales Topographic Map of South Africa

MC Escher produced his famous Fish and Scales print in 1950 – at the same time as The Butterflies. And so, following on from my re-imagination of The Butterflies in yesterday’s post, I’ve used the same method to produce the Fish and Scales Topographic Map of South Africa. You should be able to pick out the country’s coastline easily. The north-eastern edge of Escher’s print follows the curves of the Limpopo River whilst in the north-west it follows the Orange. I’d like to think that he would appreciate the playful colouring!

The Fish and Scales Topographic Map of South Africa
The Fish and Scales Topographic Map of South Africa
Escher's Fish and Scales
Escher’s Fish and Scales

MC Escher’s Butterflies Print Re-imagined

MC Escher’s work has always amazed me with the way he transforms reality: peeling it away in layers to reveal new structures and perceptions. Lately I’ve begun to wonder if I couldn’t use one of his prints – The Butterflies – to blend his work with how Geographers use Geographic Information Systems to portray the Earth’s surface. After all, Escher was always interested in landscapes too.

So I scanned The Butterflies from my 1972 copy of The Graphic Work of MC Escher and then removed all of the white areas from the print leaving those areas transparent.

MC Escher's Butterflies Print
MC Escher’s Butterflies Print

This meant that when I overlaid it on to my map of Africa’s rivers then the coloured areas showed through to become the wing colours of the butterflies. You can clearly see the distinctive shape of Africa’s horn in the top right and the central large green butterfly is right over the Congo River.

Escher's Butterflies on the Map of Africa's Rivers
Escher’s Butterflies on the Map of Africa’s Rivers

For my next attempt I flipped the Butterflies image vertically and overlaid it on the topographic map of South Africa. This makes them fly up from the south coast over the mountains of Lesotho and on into Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Escher's Butterflies on the Topographic Map of South Africa
Escher’s Butterflies on the Topographic Map of South Africa

This was a fun thing to try and it’s given me some lovely new African designs and ideas to work with.