Interpreting Landscape: Tim Robinson and the West of Ireland

This online exhibition is a re-working  of the physical exhibition, Interpreting Landscape: Tim Robinson and the West of Ireland that was on display in the Hardiman Research Building from September 2014 to January 2015. It co-incided with the publication of Connemara and Elsewhere by John Elder, Nicolas Fève and Tim Robinson, edited by Jane Conroy, jointly produced by NUI Galway and the Royal Irish Academy with the support of the Galway University Foundation.

The exhibition included items from the Tim Robinson Archive held in the NUI Galway Library, with photographs by Nicolas Fève and extracts from Connemara and Elsewhere. 

Chamchuairt / A Twisty Journey

Interpreting Landscape: Tim Robinson and the West of Ireland celebrates the national and international contribution that Tim Robinson has made to our understanding of the landscape of the west of Ireland. The exhibition offers a preview of the Tim Robinson Archive while also displaying photographs and extracts from the collaborative work Connemara and Elsewhere, a photographic exploration of Robinson's work by Nicolas Fève, with an introduction by the American nature writer John Elder and edited by Professor Jane Conroy. As a joint publication between NUI Galway and the Royal Irish Academy, the book signals the long -standing connection Robinson has had over the years with these two institutions.

In taking the end of Robinson’s work on Ireland as his starting point, the photography of Nicolas Fève demonstrates the range of possibilities in terms of re-thinking and re-framing narratives of the west (and indeed of Ireland, by extension), the end of which remains to be seen in other future creative and scholarly studies of the archive and its contents. Also on display are samples of Robinson’s personal fieldnotes, letters, maps, drawings, doodles, placename cards, to name but a few items that give us a unique snapshot into the mapmaking and writing processes.

Such archival iarsma, remnants/fragments, reveal Robinson’s deep engagement with, and understanding of, the people and places that have contributed to the construction (whether fictive or ‘real’, imaginative or geographic) of the region known as ‘the west of Ireland’. 


"But finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth. I no longer live in Aran; I cannot jump on my bicycle and go and have another look at that harsh grey hillside. My sight-lines and thought-lines to it are interrupted by the thick boggy hills and dazzling waters of Connemara. I am too far to touch, too near for Proustian telescopy.

Here to my hand are a shelve of books, thirteen piled volumes of diary, boxes bursting with record cards, a filing-cabinet of notes, letters, offprints from specialist jounrals, maps and newspaper cuttings. Also, three ring-binders of writing accumulated over a dozen years towards this work, some of it outdated, misinformed, unintelligibly sketchy, some so highly polished it will have to be cracked open again to fuse with what is still to be written."

       Tim Robinson, Stones of Aran: Labyrinth

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