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Tim Robinson, culture and environment

Unfolding Irish landscapes offers a comprehensive and sustained study of the work of cartographer, landscape writer and visual artist Tim Robinson. The visual texts and multi-genre essays included in this book, from leading international scholars in Irish Studies, geography, ecology, environmental humanities, literature and visual culture, explore Robinson’s writing, map-making and art. Robinson’s work continues to garner significant attention not only in Ireland, but also in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, particularly with the recent celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his monumental Stones of Aran: pilgrimage. Robert Macfarlane has described Robinson’s work in Ireland as ‘one of the most sustained, intensive and imaginative studies of a landscape that has ever been carried out’. It is difficult to separate Robinson the figure from his work and the places he surveys in Ireland – they are intertextual and interconnected. This volume explores some of these characteristics for both general and expert readers alike. As individual studies, the essays in this collection demonstrate disciplinary expertise. As parts of a cohesive project, they form a collective overview of the imaginative sensibility and artistic dexterity of Robinson’s cultural and geographical achievements in Ireland. By navigating Robinson’s method of ambulation through his prose and visual creations, this book examines topics ranging from the politics of cartography and map-making as visual art forms to the cultural and environmental dimensions of writing about landscapes.

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The geographical imagination of Tim Robinson
Patrick Duffy

1 Genius loci: the geographical imagination of Tim Robinson Patrick Duffy It was as if he had walked under the millimeter of haze just above the inked fibres of a map, that pure zone between land and chart between distances and legend between nature and storyteller.1 – Michael Ondaatje Introduction For forty years Tim Robinson has been engaged in a uniquely detailed exploration of the rocky outposts of the Aran Islands, Connemara and the Burren – ancient environments deeply incised with the marks of human occupation for more than two thousand years. His maps

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
Matrixial gazing in Tim Robinson’s walk-art-text practice
Moynagh Sullivan

, works to produce an erotically charged matrixial dimensionality of the spaces he walks, different from the Ordnance Survey maps, from the narrative histories, from the curves of post-Oedipal logic. He writes, These three localities, of which I have made maps, are the Aran Islands, which stand in the mouth of Galway Bay, the Burren in County Clare on the south side of the Bay, and Connemara on the north side of the bay. I’ll enhance the echoic properties of these terrains by giving each an extra dimension as well as the normal three of length, breadth and height.21

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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Ireland’s ‘ABC of earth wonders’
Derek Gladwin and Christine Cusick

Introduction: Ireland’s ‘ABC of earth wonders’ Derek Gladwin and Christine Cusick In my face, the Atlantic wind, brining walls of rain, low ceilings of cloud, dazzling windows of sunshine, the endless transformation scenes of the far west … The hill is Errisbeg, which shelters the little fishing-village of Roundstone from the west wind, in Connemara; … it has been my wonderful and wearying privilege to explore in detail over the last fifteen years, the Burren uplands in County Clare, the Aran Islands, and Connemara itself.1 – Tim Robinson Setting foot on the

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
The poetic in the work of Tim Robinson
Moya Cannon

7 Thirteen ways of looking at a landscape: the poetic in the work of Tim Robinson Moya Cannon I owe Tim Robinson an enormous debt. Through his maps and writing he has introduced me, as he has so many others, to intimate corners of the landscapes and sea edges of the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara. Anyone opening one of Tim’s books or maps cannot but be immediately arrested by the quality of attention manifest there – by the combination of precision and resonance, the access to and obvious delight in a wide variety of academic disciplines and yet the

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
The visual art of Tim Robinson/Timothy Drever
Catherine Marshall

presents, inevitably, a view from an edge. Tim Robinson, too, is interested in marginal places. In his introduction to J. M. Synge’s The Aran Islands, he observed, ‘If Ireland is intriguing as being an island off the west of Europe, then Aran, as an island off the west of Ireland, is still more so; it is Ireland raised to the power of two.’1 I was aware, however, in Beijing in 2004, that the little spot on the global map that represented Ireland could also be read as the centre of a wider global network, depending on your value systems and your perspective. I had not

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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Postcolonialism and ecology in the work of Tim Robinson
Eóin Flannery

sentimentality that fails to take into account the plight of the people who live on the island. His Árainn Mhór remains a place of habitations, not a museum-piece in which interesting relics can be observed under the white light of a severe scholarship.7 Deane’s comments are loaded with postcolonial irony  – he is well aware of and intellectually invested in the critique of British imperial rationalisations of Ireland’s ‘otherness’.8 The Aran Islands were an isolated fastness of the British Empire and, subsequently, of the Irish State, and its inhabitants have populated waves

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
Derek Gladwin

Aran Islands, Flaherty’s film Man of Aran (1934) remains a prime example. Incidentally, it was this film that initially brought Robinson and his partner Máiréad to the Aran Islands in 1972. A case could be made that the English-language documentary began with Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922), a film about an Inuit family that lived in a remote region of northern Canada. The Arctic topographies in northern Canada are as much a subject in the film as are the Inuit family, just as the Aran Islands are as much a subject as are the indigenous islanders in Man of Aran

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
100 years of Ireland in National Geographic magazine
Patrick J. Duffy

magic roundabout for NG writers, caught in a kind of mystic spell. This manner of approaching Ireland had been epitomised in Speakman’s early account of his trip round Ireland in 1927, which is based on an ‘aisling’ device where he meets a beautiful girl along the boreen to whom he tells the story of his tour of Ireland, and finishes with the disclosure that she is Ireland! In 1931, on the first of many visits to the Aran islands at the mouth of Galway Bay, the NG considered that their history and distinctive way of life enhanced ‘the charm, the strangeness, the

in Spacing Ireland
The deep mapping projects of Tim Robinson’s art and writings, 1969–72
Nessa Cronin

), Oileáin Árann/A Map of the Aran Islands, County Galway (1980; 1996) and Connemara (1990), along with his books on the west of Ireland, have established Robinson as one of the foremost writers, cartographers and thinkers of the Irish landscape over the last forty years. While he is primarily known for his contributions to Ireland’s cartographic and cultural heritages, his earlier work as the visual artist Timothy Drever is less known. In November 1972 Robinson famously left ‘the visual for the verbal’ and departed the London art scene for the west of Ireland with his

in Unfolding Irish landscapes