Friday, June 12, 2009



Environmental Art by artist Alastair R. Noble 01-25 July 2009

an talla solais, Ullapool Visual Arts in partnership with the Isle Martin Trust is hosting an environmental public art installation by New York City based artist Alastair Noble on Isle Martin, 3 miles north of Ullapool NW Highlands Scotland. Three hundred Rowan trees (Sorbus aucuparia) will be planted on the island to form a labyrinthine map of Isle Martin plotting its topographical contours. This project alludes to a short story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges On Exactitude of Science. It is anticipated, this art intervention will develop awareness of the environment and natural heritage of Isle Martin. Additionally this project will be comprised of a community lecture, a map-making workshop, exhibition and an art and poetry community event.

Borges’ tale, On Exactitude of Science addresses the idea of mapping an empire and how this map progressively grows over time to embrace the whole of the land. It investigates the concepts of representation and the value of mapping and copying. Originally published in 1946, it is still pertinent within our current cultural context of electronic media in which everything is reproduced, copied and simulated.

Noble has specifically chosen to plant Rowan trees in view of their mythological roots that go back to classical times but particularly their significance to Gaelic folklore.
The old Gaelic name for the Rowan from the ancient Ogham script was Luis from which the place name Ardlui on Loch Lomond may have been derived. The more common Scots Gaelic name is caorunn (pronounced choroon, the ch as in loch), which crops up in numerous Highland place names such as Beinn Chaorunn in Inverness-shire and Loch a'chaorun in Easter Ross. There were strong taboos in the Highlands against the use of any parts of the tree save the berries, except for ritual purposes.

Isle Martin, situated within the archipelago known as the Summer Isles, is one of 790 documented islands located throughout Scotland. No longer inhabited, the island is 400 acres roughly triangular in shape rising to a height of 123 metres above sea level on one side and gradually tapering to a flat plateau on a spit of land at about 7 metres before it reaches the rocky coastline. The island is presently maintained by Isle Martin Trust and is connected to Ullapool on the mainland by ferry service.

Alastair Noble exhibits internationally as a sculptor and installation artist. His work represents the interpretation of poetic and literary texts within the public realm. The language games - or labyrinths of the mind - invented by Borges have been the subjects of Noble’s recent art practice. His forthcoming land art intervention on Isle Martin will build upon his previous work Mapping Arcadia created at the Land/an art-site near Albuquerque, New Mexico (2007).
Alastair Noble - Website:

an talla solais (2004-2008) is a visual arts initiative which provides a gallery space for the display of contemporary arts and crafts and a showcase for the rich cultural heritage of the Scottish Highlands. an talla solais - Ullapool Visual Arts Market Street, Ullapool, Scotland IV26 2XE

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was established in Lisbon in 1956. It has a UK Branch based in London. The Foundation’s purpose in the UK and Ireland is to help enrich and connect the experiences of individuals and secure lasting and beneficial change. The UK Branch has for more than 50 years initiated and supported pioneering social, cultural and educational developments.

For information Contact:
Dr. Lindsay Blair, Project Manager, Mapping Arcadia. T:01854 655215; M: 07720709307;

Mapping Arcadia: Isle Martin and the Topography of Place hosted by an talla solais in partnership with Isle Martin Trust and is supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Mapping Arcadia: Isle Martin DVD film, written publication and artist’s book will be available later in 2009
an talla solais Ullapool Visual Arts