Tim Robinson is an internationally acclaimed photographer, cartographer, and author who has hand drawn maps of the Connemara, the Burren, and the Aran Islands. Robinson grew up in Yorkshire, England, went on to study mathematics at Cambridge and taught math for three years before moving to the Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway. I can’t say I know the places as well as he does (he very nearly walked over all of Connemara for three years according to my geography professor), but I can say I’ve at least traveled in them all. According to an exhibit at the University on Robinson’s work, he calls what he does ‘geophany’, the “visible manifestation of the earth.”
After studying for a few hours in the library, I enjoyed the exhibit which has samples of his journals, photographs of the landscape, and excerpts from Robinson’s books. His descriptions of the rugged green bogs and rolling brown grass hills are teh result of decades of living in the place he represents in his various art forms. And until more recently, I agreed with Robinson’s understanding that cities trap energy and limit our freedom, our ability to notice details. These are some excepts from his book my time in place:
“Cities were invented to protect us from the terrors and temptations of horzons. Facades stare down the would-be-wantering eye, direct it along perspectives that terminate in monuments to the centrality of the places they occupy. ” (14)
“To the artist it is intolerable that one cannot climb to one’s own horizon and look beyond.” (72)
I understand his fascination with horizons and the creative flow that comes from the being able to walk without seeing another soul or running into a graffiti-covered wall for miles. I understand the pull of the sea, the delicate tones of bridsong. But for me, I have found more energy to write, draw, and sing in this city than I have found since leaving school in my rural New Hampshire home. Here stories are bombarding me from every angle and persistantly whispering to be told. I can hear my neighbors knocking eager on doors at midnight, run next to strangers along the sea, drink down pints on a Monday night. So although I love quiet forest and gold corn horizon, for me right now, this city inspires.
How do you like your horizons?