Maps and archipelagos

Together with the journals and drawings brought back to the studio from years of travelling, is a large collection of maps. They range from children's' imaginings to historical drawings and digital renderings of our world, from old maps of small islands and large cities to those more nebulous tracts of space delineated in the grids and numbers of navigational charts, of passages of desert, sea and mountain. Many of them are of places I have known and experienced at ground level, where in Richard Long's phrase, 'the earth turns under my feet'. But some are places of imaginative wandering - not only through a high altitude world but also far beyond, where the cartographer is a telescope or a satellite.


Painting is a kind of mapping, the plotting of time and memory in a space that is both physical and metaphorical. Constellation (the painting above) began with the fragment of a map destroyed by a storm while travelling to Osprey island off the coast of Maine. It is part of an archipelago, and I am reminded of it again because it is a word whose connotations have been extended to suggest a new response to the wild places in our own 'sheet of water studded with many islands'. 1685503-1199294-thumbnail.jpg
Archipelago, no.1, 2007
is a new journal which seeks to replace those bland and worn out categories of 'Landscape art' and 'Nature writing' with something tougher and more urgent. For Robert Macfarlane,' the archipelagic imagination has gone through many ebbs and surges. At present it is unmistakably surging' (The Guardian, 14.7.07). His own book, The Wild Places, forms a part of what he describes as a broader movement in which, 'increasing numbers of artists - poets, novelists, writers, painters, photographers and sculptors - are also finding inspiration in the patterns and plays of geology, meteorology and natural history' and whose impetus comes not only from the kind of environmental angst evident in events like Live Earth but also from the fear that technology has separated us from what we once all necessarily had, an elemental relationship with the land.