Friday 4 September 2009

Richard Long-Heaven and Earth

In between the Chunghie Lee masterclass and my main visit to FoQ, I had a day off to recover(!) which I jam- packed with shopping, coffee with Sue and a visit to Tate Britain ( an easy trip by train from Brentford to Vauxhall). The object of my visit was the Richard Long exhibition.
It stirred me in many ways and will I think leave a lasting impression. It's first effect was to colour my view of the Festival of Quilts - many pieces seemed so fussy in comparison until I acclimatised. Like Olga, I had seen his work in galleries and exhibitions before, and liked it but its hadn't made much impact on me. This time, being surrounded by it, in a large spacious setting with detailed explanations was quite a different experience, sometimes unexpected. The photographs, drawings , sculptures and textworks were interesting and often beautiful in themselves in addition to representing in varied ways the act of walking. But as I was going round I realised I was thinking as much about my own interaction with landscape and interpretation of it, relating his work to my own experiences. In Room 3, mainly wonderfully grainy photos of walks and 'interventions' in the landscape, he talked of ' making a circle of stones, just placing a stone at every mile, or carrying a stone from one place to another' . This made me think of the World Beach Project and the fun Ian and I had last year in Greece, making us look at a familiar landscape in a different way.

Room 4 contained large 'indoor' sculptures of stones-
"I like the fact that every stone is different, one from another, in the same way all fingerprints, or snowflakes (or places) are unique, so no two circles can be alike. In the landscape works, the stones are of the place and remain there. With an indoor sculpture there is a different working rationale. The work is usually first made to fit its first venue in terms of scale, but it is not site-specific; the work is autonomous in that it can be re-made in another space and place. When this happens, there is a specific written procedure to follow. The selection of the stones is usually random; also individual stones will be in different places within the work each time. Nevertheless, it is the 'same' work whenever it is re-made."

My favouites here were the Norfolk Flint Circle which made me think of the flint pebbles at Bexhill (above) and 'Slate Line' which put in me mind of the limestone pavement at Malham (below). These had very different properties - white and knobbly versus sleek grey shards but both had interesting things going on in the negative shapes between the pieces. The idea for 'Transference' in room 5 was "first making a walk on Dartmoor recording various things. Then later on a completely different walk in Japan, I deliberately looked out for and could find certain things that were the same as on Dartmoor. It is about a symmetry of places, or events, on different sides of the world, and universal phenomena"

That it something I could relate to. I've been to many nature reserves in UK and Europe as part of my job but when I visited this 'swamp' reserve on Mt Chokai in Japan, it felt both familiar and alien. I could recognise that some plants were orchids but frustratingly couldn't name them ( the guide book had no latin names - so much for it being the universal taxonomic language) Food and meals feature in his 'transference'. I'd taken my normal walking snack of Duchy Original cheese nibbles with me to Japan , but I never anticipated eating them with chopsticks during a picnic in a carpark!

Since moving to Brentford, I've been much more aware of the tidal nature of the river Thames - from mud to high water in just a few hours. Tides were the focus of room 6 where I spent most time, mesmerised by the huge painting 'White Water Line' . "......White Water Line demonstrates different types of energy. It uses china clay from the big clay pits near St Austell in Cornwall. This work represents the force of my hand speed, and the forces of water, chance and gravity. I make the top line of the image and nature makes the rest, revealing the cosmic variety of the microscale."

I loved seeing the mark of the maker in this and the other'mud' paintings.

The 'dribbles' reminded me of Osterley Weir which was a focus of our canalside walks at Xmas and New Year

I did several journal quilts and paintings exploring this subject earlier in the year and even pieced a quilt top which I put aside to work on my FoQ entry. Time to return to working on this piece I think. Not sure I'll use mud though!


Chrissie said...

thank you for a beautifully illustrated post. I'm very taken with the picnic in the (car)park!

neki desu said...

lovely post!
iou 1.
you set me on the quest for inktense pencils and have finally found them over here.aware that they won't be used as"proficiently" as you, but fun nonetheless.