An epigraph to James Attlee’s Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey reads:
“‘Isolarion’ is the term for the 15th-centry maps that describe specific areas in detail, but that do not provide a clarifying overview of how these places are related to each other.’ From the publicity for the exhibition Isolarion by Sophie Tottie, Lund Kunsthalle, Sweden 2005.
His own Isolarion dwells on the Cowley Road in Oxford and represents a pilgrimage of sorts to and from his own doorstep. He journeys through the census past to discover workhouses and geriatric hospitals, through the busy kitchens of the street’s Asian restaurants, via allotments, football matches and reggae nights, in and out of conversations with friends and strangers: all observations authorized simply by his desire to know his adopted patch of turf and consider how it takes its place in the wider world.
A friend, Wes Williams, gave it to me. Wes has a scholarly interest in pilgrimage and monsters. He turns up here to advise on miraculous waters. James Attlee, Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
This evening, the Pale Project Workshop convenes for the first time. We will range in age from an 11 week old baby (hopefully our one sleeping participant), to an explorer in her seventies. The group includes a marine ecologist, several artists, curators, broadcasters, writers, a councillor, a textile artist, a biologist, graduating students and a retired teacher. Our chosen territories range from Dalkey Island, to Shanganagh Cliffs, to Carrickgollogan, to Churchtown, to Seapoint and points in between. We are not aiming to provide a clarifying overview of how these places relate to each other, but perhaps this process of exploring our county on foot and with all five senses open, will anchor the digital maps that appear to slide free from our devices and assert coordinates of their own.
Tonight I’ll be distributing excerpts from Simon Garfield’s, On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does, Profile Books, 2012, and inviting participants to draw in their territories on a master-map of the county’s electoral districts. PS2 did something similar back in 2009, when they invited 7 artists all living and working in Belfast to be home-tourists and conduct an alternative urban survey of the city’s Cathedral Quarter. Images from Keith Winter’s map are reproduced below.