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.

Matrixial gazing in Tim Robinson’s walk-art-text practice

and the horizon created is an often violent and cruel intrusion 207 208 Moynagh Sullivan into any possible easing into a nostalgic relationship with a romanticised or feminised Irish landscape. In the chapter titled ‘Into the Mist’, from the final part of the trilogy Last Pool of Darkness, Robinson begins with lines that recall the matrixiality of water and white horse in Sheridan’s film Into the West: Aughrus – Eachros, horse peninsula, in proper Irish – is the broad, low-lying lobe of land at the head of the peninsula south-west of Cleggan bay. Its main

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

vision. The field of Irish cultural studies has yet to exploit fully the critical and analytical resources of ecological criticism. Indeed very little sustained and enabling historical or critical writing has emanated from the field that might productively contribute to international conversations on the political and cultural implications of global environmental change.There have always been creative and critical engagements with the Irish landscape – a trend partly occasioned by the country’s protracted history of colonialism (a prime concern of ecological criticism

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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Ireland’s ‘ABC of earth wonders’

-winning books (in addition to dozens of essays), create topographical maps of the Aran Islands, the Burren and Connemara, and deliver numerous public talks in Ireland, England, France and the United States. Unfolding Irish Landscapes – derived from the name of Robinson’s own map-making company, Folding Landscapes – seeks to explore Robinson’s place in Irish Studies, as well as in North Atlantic studies more generally.10 Attempting to label Robinson presents the largest challenge in a collection of work devoted to his writings and maps. Our aim, then, is not to define Robinson

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
The deep mapping projects of Tim Robinson’s art and writings, 1969–72

3 ‘The fineness of things’: the deep mapping projects of Tim Robinson’s art and writings, 1969–72 Nessa Cronin But if it is true that Time began, it is clear that nothing else has begun since, that every apparent beginning is a stage in an elder process.The compass rose that unfurled about me in Aran, I now discover, had its stem in London.1 – Tim Robinson Tim Robinson’s work has become a touchstone for those interested in, and concerned with, the changing nature of the modern Irish landscape. In particular, the production of the maps of The Burren (1977; 1999

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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The geographical imagination of Tim Robinson

died. There is also Binn an tSaighdiúra, The geographical imagination of T   im Robinson which may be connected with an OS sapper who fell to his death while surveying the area in the 1830s. Cúgla (Cúige Uladh) is called after migrants from Armagh ejected from Ulster in the 1795 sectarian strife. Duirling na Spáinneach (rockbank of the Spaniards) remembers the armada ship Concepcion wrecked off this point whose survivors were executed in Galway.58 The Aran Islands, the focus of Robinson’s first engagement with the Irish landscape, was an attractive scenic location

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
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On the rocks road

The collection ends appropriately with a poem by Andrew McNeillie that he wrote about Robinson. Furthering the creative process, McNeillie, who is both a literary critic and creative writer, diverges from the critical essay form and offers a creative reflection of Robinson’s relationship with the landscape and mapping upon his arrival to Ireland through poetic form.

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
In defence of the Irish essay

Karen Babine argues that the genre of ‘creative nonfiction’, or the Montaignaian essay, is largely missing in the Irish context. Babine maintains that Robinson and Arthur represent two exceptions of creative nonfiction writers who are still thriving, and who both operate almost exclusively in the nonfiction genre (though each has published small exceptions in fiction and poetry).

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
Tim Robinson’s place in Irish Studies

Eamonn Wall explores the methodology and reach of Robinson’s work. Even though Robinson is not connected to the academy, his work exemplifies the idea of interdisciplinarity. Wall argues that Robinson has moved slowly and respectfully, allowing him to undertake many avenues of inquiry to great effect that continues to remain relevant in Irish Studies.

in Unfolding Irish landscapes
Reading Tim Robinson through Gluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta

Jerry White explores some of the possible connections between Robinson and the debates in the 1970s about the Irish language movement. White examines the very beginnings of Robinson’s mapping career, drawing on both the historical narrative of Gluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta (the Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement) and early editions of Robinson's work and documents pertaining to this early Irish language movement through figures such as the film-maker Bob Quinn and the political journalist Desmond Fennell.

in Unfolding Irish landscapes