After talking to Caroline about my work, she advised me to look at the work of Richard Long, who creates sculptures on his journeys and walks through the landscape. He then photographs these sculptures and tags them as “Art made by walking”; to me this is an interesting concept as this shows his personal experience with the land in a creative way, and so I have decided to look at his work in greater detail.
- ART MADE BY WALKING IN LANDSCAPES.
- PHOTOGRAPHS OF SCULPTURES MADE ALONG THE WAY.
- Art about mobility, lightness and freedom. Simple creative acts of walking and marking about place, locality, time, distance and measurement. Works using raw materials and my human scale in the reality of landscapes.
- Closely associated with the emergence of a new art form, Land art, having already produced such works as A Line Made by Walking (1967; London, Tate), a photograph of the trail left in the grass by walking back and forth in a straight line.
- Sculptures made as the result of epic walks, sometimes lasting many days, to remote parts of the world.
- Guided by a great respect for nature and by the formal structure of basic shapes, especially circles, he never allowed facile exotic connotations to intrude into his work, although some of his sculptures evoked the mysterious connotations of ancient stone circles and other such monuments.
- This photograph shows a straight line of trampled grass receding towards tall bushes or trees at the far side of what appears to be a field. Below the photograph, on the off-white paper mount, are the words ‘A LINE MADE BY WALKING’ (handwritten in red pencil) and, below this, ‘ENGLAND 1967’ (handwritten in graphite pencil).
- The work documents an action by Richard Long – the creation of a transient line in nature made by repeatedly walking back and forth in a grassy field – which he then photographed from an angle at which the sunlight made the line particularly visible.
- Long has commented about this work: “Nature has always been recorded by artists, from prehistoric cave paintings to twentieth-century landscape photography. I too wanted to make nature the subject of my work, but in new ways. I started working outside using natural materials like grass and water, and this evolved into the idea of making a sculpture by walking … My first work made by walking, in 1967, was a straight line in a grass field, which was also my own path, going ‘nowhere’. In the subsequent early map works, recording very simple but precise walks on Exmoor and Dartmoor, my intention was to make a new art which was also a new way of walking: walking as art.” (Tufnell 2007, p.39.)
- A Line Made by Walking was impermanent (the trodden grass would have returned to its natural state within a matter of days).
In much of Long’s work he shows his personal impact on the landscape in the form of his sculptures or marking, he has a creative way of showing his experience with the land. However I also believe that his sculptures echo a larger theme of man’s effect on the natural landscape, how even though some of these effects may be slight, they can often be seen through out different landscapes. In my own work, I have been looking at this idea of how man has affected the River Sherbourne and the surrounding natural landscapes; in my photographs I aim to look at the change from the natural landscape at the source of the river, then following the river through to the city showing the increase of human presence and the idea of how man has affected the natural landscape. My photographs will combine both the route of the river and its journey as well as the surrounding area, showing any human presence. From this idea of man’s effect on nature, it has made me think about how something natural like a river exists through a large city, and the idea of how nature and the city live along side each other. I want to look at the idea of nature and the city in greater detail, seeing debates around the topic and thinking about Coventry specifically.
- River Avon Book has a black front cover on which the words ‘RIVER AVON BOOK | RICHARD LONG’ are handwritten in white pencil crayon. The book has around thirty off-white, hand-made pages with torn edges featuring horizontal streaks of light-brown mud. On some pages the mud streaks are thicker and darker while on others they are thinner and more mottled, evoking rivulets across the pages.
- Long created the pages of this book by dipping sheets of paper into silty wet mud taken from the River Avon in Bristol. He then hung up each sheet to allow the water to run off, leaving streaks of dried mud on its surface.
- Long frequently uses mud from the River Avon and has even taken it abroad for use in exhibitions. Referring to the Avon as his ‘home’ river – since it runs through Bristol, where he was born
- “My first natural playground was the cliff of the Avon Gorge and the towpath by the river. So even as a kid I was fascinated by the enormous tide, and the mud banks, and the wash of the boats as they swept past. You have this wash sweeping up the mud … muddy creeks … I guess it’s right to say that I have used that experience in my art: like water, the tides, the mud. All that cosmic energy is there in my work.” (Ben Tufnell (ed.), Richard Long: Selected Statements & Interviews, London 2007, p.112.)
- Tate curator Andrew Wilson has noted of this edition that ‘in holding this book you literally hold the river … the pace of the turning pages akin to the shifting currents. Each page of each book is thus a unique and real image and each book is different from another as is each page, one from another’ (Andrew Wilson in Wallis 2009, p.199).
In this body of work, I love how Long has taken a unique and creative approach to creating this book that links to the River Avon. The book becomes part of the river due to its process of how it was made and elements of the river literary lie within the book. To me the book shows the connection and personal quality of the river to Long as he has grown up with this river and has continued to go back to it to create a range of work, the book shows Long’s personal connection to the river. In my own work, even though it is different from that of Long’s, I want to show my personal connection to the River Sherbourne in the form of my journey of discovery, showing in my photographs my journey down the river and what I discover along this journey.
In my work I will not be creating sculptures, however I feel that combining my personal experience and the discovery of the river could create a stronger more informed body of work.
The work of Richard Long links to that of Hamish Fulton, who I was advised to look at; like Long, Fulton creates art from his journeys and walking. The idea of walking and a journey is clear from the very start on his web page, http://www.hamish-fulton.com/, the page has a continuous soundtrack running; the sounds of nature and walking are combined to give the viewer an idea of Fulton’s journey and travels. The single paged website has a flow of visuals all relating to the idea of walking. A central characteristic of his practice was a direct physical engagement with landscape. Although only Fulton experiences the walk itself, the texts and photographs he presents in exhibitions and books allow us to engage with his experience. Even though this is quite a lot different from my work and ideas, I still find it interesting to look at how someone else has creatively shown their journey.