A New Young Explorers’ Map featuring many of St Paul’s weird and wonderful animals, including an owl, camel and lions, has youngsters looking at the cathedral in a whole new light.
The map was designed by Reuben Coe, an artist who has Down Syndrome, in partnership with St Paul’s in a bid to make the iconic landmark more accessible for people of a young age.
It also has informative text in Reuben’s Font – a design based on the artist’s handwriting. Speaking at the launch of the interactive map on 27 October, St Paul’s Canon Chancellor Rev
Mark Oakley explained: “Reuben Coe is many things. He is a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a writer, an artist, a comedian. And he is also a person who was born with Down Syndrome… Thank you Reuben for working with us and for the way in which you have brought these animals to life. We are excited to introduce them to our youngest visitors to the cathedral.”
After sub-organist Peter Holder played Reuben’s favourite hymn – How Great Thou Art – some visitors started to seek out St Paul’s animals with the map.
St Paul’s head of schools and family learning, Donna McDowell, said: “Reuben was an absolute delight to work with. In his initial meeting with myself and the designer he brought along a portfolio of his work, and it was obvious from looking at his drawings of London that he was perfect for this project.
“We spent time together in the cathedral, talking about the art work and the statues and the cathedral’s history. I wanted Reuben to get a sense of the place and all the imagery inside before settling on what illustrations he would provide for our new Young Explorers’ Map.
“Reuben was really taken with the different lions that can be found all around the cathedral and so it felt very natural to make animals our focus.
“We took some photographs and Reuben’s brother Manni told me that as soon as they went back to their hotel he started drawing them. He also drew himself dancing in the rain outside the cathedral with his umbrella.
“This is my favourite illustration as it really captures Reuben’s infectious joy and the delight he felt at discovering St Paul’s for himself.” The artist himself said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the Young Explorers use the map.”