Friday, June 02, 2023

Drinking the Rivers of Dartmoor

A few weeks ago I saw this at the National Gallery's excellent exhibition themed around Saint Francis of Assisi. It reminded me that I hadn't had a chance to note here anything about the recent Richard Long show at the Lisson Gallery, Drinking the rivers of Dartmoor (in the website's video clip interview he says he has used Dartmoor as his studio all his life). I found looking at these works rather moving because some of them clearly looking back over his long career and revisit ideas that shaped his walks. 'A Path of Innocence' (2022), for example, relates only tangentially to the landscape of Wales and uses phrases that relate to different phases of his life. He says the title was inspired by something he heard Wisława Szymborska say in her Nobel acceptance speech (although I can't see a source for it).


Another text work I particularly liked was 'Walking at the Speed of Spring' - a lovely concept, although one that only emerged retrospectively.

"I had the idea to walk from the southern tip to the northern tip of Great Britain, and the idea was to make a walking sculpture, so I put a stone on the road every day. The text work that came out of that was 'A Line of 33 Stones, A Walk of 33 days'. I thought that was it, and then I happened to be looking at some of the photographs I took on that walk and I noticed the beautiful yellow of the gorse. And then I realised that that gorse was also in Cornwall when I started the walk. So I realised that I actually had been walking at the speed of spring. And that was on the cusp of winter turning into spring, that walk, because in Lincolnshire I remember some snow showers and hail storms. So I had some bad weather, but it started in the spring and it ended in the spring."

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