It is hard to describe Richard Long's work-it is much easier to experience it. He is an artist who uses the land and simple forms-lines, circles, spirals. His work is beautiful, calming and poetic.
It was strange to be in an indoor space seeing the exhibition but to feel so much like I was outdoors, in the wild places he explores and uses in his work. He records work in ways that are suited to it and the ideas it is about. His work is about being in the landscape and moving through it. He may take a photo, write a descriptive list or make a map. One of my favourite pieces of work was called 'Transference'. He took a three day walk on Dartmoor, listing some of the things he encountered. He then took a seven day walk on Chokai mountain in Japan where he experienced the same things in the same order-obviously-choosing to look for them in that order, but the fact that it is possible to do this showed the universality of places and experiences.
His work also relates to space, time and measurement and is almost a way of classifying experiences-through listing or focussing on a particular thing. For example he made a work called 'Dartmoor Time'-a continuous walk of 24 hours on Dartmoor. Two examples of Dartmoor time are
'HOLDING A BUTTERFLY WITH A LIFESPAN OF ONE MONTH'
'CLIMBING OVER GRANITE 350 MILLION YEARS OLD ON GREAT MIS TOR'
He makes books as a particular way to show his work and one of my favourite examples was a book containing only photos of pebbles on the beach he walked-one photo taken at regular intervals-they are all pebbles-single examples of the thousands on the beach and each in the book has its moment of exposure and importance. I just loved that idea.
Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from artist statements in the exhibition book
"My art is about working in the wide world, wherever. It has the themes of materials, ideas, movement, time. The beauty of objects, thoughts, places and actions. I hope to make images and ideas that resonate in the imagination, that mark the earth and the mind. My work is about my senses, my scale, my instinct. I use the world as I find it, passing through by design and chance."
"Of course, an important aspect of my work is just the pleasure of doing it, for me a walk is a great thing to do. It can feel like being outside the normal difficulties of life. Sometimes on a walk I can feel intensely alive or free or unencumbered or simply happy. Basically a road walk is walking all day and sleeping all night, and in hindsight the time of the walk seems to have passed very quickly as an almost out of life experience. I love the simple pleasures of eating, getting fit or finding a new campsite or B&B each night. I realise all this might be outside the experience or interest of a lot of people, which is fair enough" (I love that last little bit especially!)
I am almost tempted to go and see the exhibition again I enjoyed it so much!