Richard Long: connections between ideas

There was an interesting article in this month’s British Archaeology magazine about Richard Long‘s art work.  It drew out connections between several of my own interests, including archaeology, art, nature and walking.

In the article, Mike Pitts discussed how Richard Long’s work comes from the art world and instinct, but almost coincidentally mirrors aspects of archaeology such as the way stones are laid out.

I find it fascinating how ideas and events connect when I am open to seeing the links.  I saw an exhibition, Time and Space, by Richard Long at the Arnolfini a few years ago, but had forgotten all about it until I read this article.  Afterwards, I had been inspired to create maps of some of my mini explorations by tracking over an OS map to plot my route, including only the significant details such as buildings that I visited, the river and the green spaces.

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I love this quote that I took a photo of when I saw the exhibition:

“My art is in the nature of things

I like the idea of making something from nothing

I can walk all day and sleep all night following an idea

I use the land without the need of ownership

My talent as an artist is to walk across a moor or place a stone on the ground

My work is about movement and stillness       the walking and the stopping places        It can be either passing by or leaving a mark

I use intition and chance        body and mind      time and space

I use the world as I find it”

(Richard Long)

It links well with some of the ideas that are floating around my head at the moment about how I connect and interact with my local landscape and my plan to create some sort of map of the tiny patch of woodland that I got lost in last week.

After hearing about Deborah Aguirre Jones’ project, Explain / Yourself at the willow sculpture workshop earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about the questions she posed:

  • How do you see the land beside the Severn?
  • How would it see you?

I’ve realised that when I’m walking along my very familiar route along the seafront, I have conversations with myself (usually in my head) that I don’t have in other settings.  These conversations help me to work through ideas, thoughts or feelings, so I often go out for a quick walk when I’m worried about something, lacking inspiration or have a problem to tackle.  I also have imaginary conversations with actual people while I walk, which helps me to get things off my chest, particularly if I can’t have the conversation with them in real life, or to prepare my thoughts.  I think there’s something about the familiarity of the landscape and the route which means that I am not distracted by it, although I do still engage with it and draw strength and inspiration from the natural beauty.  The route is isolated enough that there is usually no one around to notice if the conversation moves from being inside my head to being vocalised!   I don’t have these conversations in the same way in other settings, even when I’m alone in my house, and I didn’t have them in such depth or so many of them around other places that I’ve lived.   I’m off for another walk in a minute to try to work out what it is about this landscape that inspires so much reflection.

“Solvitur ambulando” – It is solved by walking. (Latin)

I’m also using the local landscape as a source of material for craft, collecting pebbles, driftwood and anything else that catches my eye.  My other purpose in going for a walk today is to release these pebbles back to where they came from, but with a little bit of added decoration, inspired by Jackie Morris‘ much more intricate gilded stones.

Another artist that links well with some of these ideas about connecting with the landscape is Andy Goldsworthy, who I will re-explore a bit later.  For the first time, I’m feeling the desire (or maybe even need!) to start a sketchbook to record creative ideas or ‘crumbs of curiosity‘, as Morwhenna Woolcock very aptly describes them.  It’s a very promising shift in my own creative development!  So even if nobody else is reading this blog, it’s having a tangible impact on my personal creativity by helping me to verbalise and link my inspirations.

What connections between artists and ideas have you noticed recently?  Please comment below with the crumbs of curiosity that you are currently following!

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