After weeks of walking every street, pathway and route in Portree – then driving every road in Skye, acclaimed New York-based artist J. Maizlish Mole created two beautifully humorous yet practical public maps. These maps, commissioned by ATLAS in partnership with The Portree and Area Community Trust (PACT) are objects of art but also playful navigational tools for the Isle of Skye as a whole, and the town of Portree in particular. Incorporating elements of local oral knowledge and culture into the map, Mole and ATLAS hoped to set for how Skye’s stunning locations can be brought to life through the eyes of people who live there and visit.

To create the map for Portree, Mole – who in 2011 created a similar work for Edinburgh as a commission by the Edinburgh Art Festival – walked in and around town for two weeks, taking in its streets, landmarks, walking trails, quirks, amenities, landscapes and history. Mole’s working process is unique: as he travels routes several times and then hand-draws the map from memory, to scale – incorporating personalised annotations of the elements that he has learnt along the way through both personal experience and locals’ knowledge. Sites like “Huge Supermarket” appear alongside the more unusual “Ghost Trail,” an old route mentioned by locals, which he discovered by spotting the remains of the track in Google Earth. Mole describes his mapping work as plotting out cityscapes – or in this case, ruralscapes – as they are lived in and remembered.


‘These two drawings represent the Isle of Skye and the Portree area as I experienced them on a series of solo expeditions during May, June and October of 2012. Each of these drawings is a memory map in the borrowed form of a road map. They plot out the subjective shape of a travelled-through, marveled-at, remembered landscape. Although this process results in more or less accurate, navigable maps, the objective along the way is always the mapping out of the lived experience and the impression left, rather than of the terrain itself.’

J. Maizlish Mole

Described as ‘a love song to Skye,‘ by Emma Nicolson, director at ATLAS Arts, the maps are displayed in Skye’s main town centre, Portree, as public art and information board for all to see.

Both maps are available to buy as a high-quality, limited edition, signed or unsigned, digital print. For more information and how to purchase, please visit our online shop.