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Murray Robertson

Visual Artist in Residence 2015

“Mapping Scotia I Wild Boundaries”

In 2013 Scottish Natural Heritage produced a unique map entitled ‘The Core Areas of Wild Land’. 

Despite a relative lack of media attention this new representation of the familiar Scottish landscape may prove to be of distinct importance to the general public, public and private sectors and the policies of the Scottish Government.

The Isle of Skye features two of the 42 ‘core’ areas designated within the SNH map: Cuillin and Duirinish.

“The SNH map is objective analysis and entirely based on the interpretation of satellite geographic data. Of course in reality no definitive ‘boundaries’ exist between ‘core wild areas’ and the remaining landscape. However, my interest lies in investigating the ‘borders’ and ‘overlap’ of these spaces, in particular the reactions and perceptions of those people who live locally or have occasion to visit the ‘core’ locations for pleasure and recreation.”

I have had a long interest in cartography and related forms of diagrammatic representation and view maps as fascinating, complex cultural creations that need to be understood in the context of the times and peoples who make them. As a visual artist I enjoy working with many layers of information and would be interested in any ideas or responses that the local community and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig staff and students have in relation to the project.

For example:

1. 'Wildness’ and ‘perceived naturalness’: I have investigated a number of subjects including the etymology of the words ‘wild’ and ‘wilderness’ in the English language. I would be very interested in any information and etymology on Gaelic words for ‘wild’ and ‘wilderness’ too.

2. The boundaries of the SNH map do not seem to take into account areas of some former settlements on Skye and other areas of Scotland. I would be interested in any information on previously settled areas and their overlap with the delineation on the SNH map.

3. Last year I was working in Lewis and became very interested in Gaelic place names, their relationship to landscape, current usage and delineation in maps ( Several Lewis residents indicated to me that current Ordnance Survey maps of the area were actually often inaccurate in their nomenclature. Is this the case in Skye also? I would be interested in any interesting facts about place names, especially in the Cuillin and Duirinish.

Mapping Scotia’, is a title applied to a series of works currently in production inspired by recent visits to various areas of Scotland. This residency at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig provides a unique opportunity to concentrate on and develop relevant work.”

Mapping Scotia (1)

Mapping Scotia (2)

Mapping Scotia I Wild Boundaries


Murray Robertson studied at the Glasgow School of Art and lives and works in Glasgow. Although Murray has maintained an interest in traditional fine art and printmaking through many years of association with Glasgow Print Studio, his current professional practice is influenced by the research, development and application of new technologies, specifically digital imaging and printing. Murray has exhibited widely over the past 25 years in the UK and internationally. Of particular influence have been residencies and exchange programmes including: Künsterlhaus Bethanien, Berlin (1989-93); Yamanaka Fine Arts Centre, Kyoto, Japan (1995); JJ School of Art, Mumbai, India (2001/2003); Museo Grabado, Zacatecas, Mexico (2004); and most recently Lewis, Outer Hebrides (2013).

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This residency is funded by Creative Scotland with support from The Royal Scottish Academy and is part of a full residency programme promoting, creating and encouraging new literature, drama, music and the visual arts at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.