The Art of the Book
Starts on Tue Jan 17, 2023 | £399
I love islands, I love books. Isolarios are both of these things: they are books of islands. Let’s make one! A book of maps of islands in a turquoise cover. This book will be slightly bigger than the previous one and will still conform to the international paper sizes of A4.
Although they are lesser known and less studied they are important historically as the precursors to grander atlases and then globes. The story starts with small islands. For me the isolarios represent beginnings, and a time of wonder and curiosity, just past the portolan littoral coast-hugging phase and before the Age of Sail (and colonial expansion and everything that goes with it). The mapping of islands was by definition small-scale. And although islands may be small, their implications are huge: even Columbus was originally looking for islands but stumbled upon a massive, inhabited continent.
January is also a good time to think about warm tropical islands if you’re cold. I’ll also be physically on an island - not the British Isles as usual but the eternal spring of the Islas Canarias, the Fortunate Isles of the Canaries! They were a vital link between 4 continents of Africa, Europe and the 2 Americas and were a stopping point for sailors and privateers including Murat Re'is the Elder* to catch the trade winds - and lucky isles that merry mapmakers would pepper the sea with and that just happened to be there - something I researched further in my paper on Floating Islands, available at academia.edu (and it’ll be on the Miniature Painting Forum). As an islomane of course I went to the Caird Library in Greenwich, London to do some isolario research (which will also be at the Forum) and we’ll use a mixture of primary and secondary sources spanning the history of isolarios starting with Cristoforo Buondelmonti’s very first isolario (see a paper I wrote on this at academia.edu and the Forum) blended with our imaginations to create the island book isolario of our dreams…
*Who fought alongside Piri Reis, the cartographer… who also made maps of islands…
For those of you in Art of Attention: Court of Gayumars: please note that the sessions on 18 and 25 January will be rolled over to February.
Class includes a bespoke handmade turquoise leather envelope-flap cover to paint and free postage to anywhere in the world… except if you live on a remote island like St Helena, of course (might take 2 months to arrive apparently!)
Book Online Dates:17 January to 1 February 2023, 5pm - 6pm GMT Total of 6 sessions:
Tuesday 17 January Wednesday 18 January Tuesday 24 January Wednesday 25 January Tuesday 31 January Wednesday 1 February
Location & Contact Details
And of course those lovely 'floating' rocks in the Court of Gayumars... they are not floating, they are just part of the background. Or maybe they are floating...
It just depends on your perspective!
And now for some isolario photos I took from the Caird Library:
And a really interesting essay I wish I'd read years ago on the idea of the isolario also as a literary genre and not only a cartographic one; indeed the 'seeds of magical realism and the Latin American novel as a genre' from Gabriel Garcia Marquez no less - From the Mediterranean to the World: A Note on the Italian “Book of Islands” (isolario)
2010 by Cachey, Theodore: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4wv7j9jc great short essay to read.
Here is the full paper of my thesis on Floating Islands which includes a section on the origins and development of the genre of the Isolario: https://www.academia.edu/38140696/FLOATING_ISLANDS_THE_FLOATING_AND_WANDERING_ISLAND_IN_MEDIEVAL_AND_RENAISSANCE_CULTURE_AND_ISOLARII
Here is a detailed study of one of the earliest Isolarios (academic paper) by Christopher Buondelmonti or Cristoforo Buondelmonti: https://www.academia.edu/93894877/LIBER_INSULARIUM_CHRISTOPHER_BUONDELMONTI
(And generally for all my other papers: https://independent.academia.edu/VaishaliPrazmari)
Finally here is the link to the British Library record of the manuscript Arundel 93 which I studied (one of the earliest Isolarios as above):