You are on page 1of 13


Richard Long
Friday 31 July Sunday 15 November 2015

As a profoundly simple way of relating to the world around us, and
specifically the natural environment, Richard Longs work is about
acts of measurement. Walking alone in the landscape is central to his
approach. It is a basic, though powerful, way to experience the natural
world through physical effort, which he uses as a method both to
measure time and space and create works about his experiences. His
style is immediately recognisable, combining minimal and conceptual
art practices with a quality that connects to the most ancient traces of
humankinds relationship with the land.


Muddy Water Falls, 2015, is the latest in a series of works Long has been
doing for many years, in which mud is applied by his hand directly on
to the gallery wall. For this exhibition the mud has been taken from the
bank of the River Avon. As the mud dries a record is made of the dynamic
gestures by which it is applied, gestures dictated by its fluid, splashing
quality. The watery quality is testament to the muds origin, the cycles of
erosion, redistribution, drying out and washing away that it goes through
in the tidal, estuarine river.
In contrast to the energy of Muddy Water Falls, further text works on
the gallery walls are quieter, a more conceptual way of recording the
experience of landscape.

LEVEL 1: GALLERIES 2, 3, & 4

Presented in gallery 2 is Bristol 1967/2015, which was first constructed in
Bristol in 1967, and was then taken by Long to different places, including
The Downs in Bristol and the Irish countryside, and photographed in the
summer of that year. A way of stretching the physical limitations of a
sculpture, the piece remains the same whilst its shape is completed by

whatever location it is set down in. Here, re-created in a gallery setting,

it may be regarded as acting as a memento or portal to the sites it was
previously set up in. It could also be thought of as a negative to some of
the many other circles Long has created from natural materials around
the world.
Gallery 2 and 4 contain some of Longs photographic work. Each piece
represents a different sculpture, or action, undertaken in a landscape,
and photographed before being given up to the elements.
In Gallery 3, Richard Long has said that whereas his photographs
and text pieces feed the imagination, his sculptures in the gallery
feed the senses. Time and Space, 2015 in Gallery 3 is a monumental
new sculpture; its weight and scale are in striking contrast to Bristol
1967/2015. It is made from slate, a material frequently used by Long
who has worked with the same quarry in Delabole, Cornwall for many
years. It takes the form of a right-angled cross, a form or symbol which
like the line and circle, often appears in Longs work. The cross could be
considered as a place marker, a deliberate mark made to symbolise a
specific intention or defined point.

For this gallery, Long has selected new fingerprint driftwood drawings,
a format much less well known amongst Longs work. The scale is
more intimate than the pieces downstairs, though in their use of raw,
natural materials, and a repetitive, precise technique, there are strong
similarities. In both instances, a kind of Zen-like artistic freedom is found
through the rigid adherence to a predetermined, repetitive form. It is
possible to say something similar about the way that Long has remained
true to the same approaches walks, stone sculptures, mud works
through the entirety of his career, distilling a simple practice down to its
most profound form, rather than focussing on technical innovation for its
own sake.

Whilst not belonging to a single movement, Richard Longs work can be
understood by looking at:

Conceptual Art
The term emerged in the late 1960s to describe a shift whereby artists
chose to prioritise an idea or concept over the production of a traditional
art object. From this it follows that conceptual art can be almost
anything, however certain trends appeared such as Performance (or
Action) art, Land or Environmental art and the Italian movement Arte

Land or Environmental art

Land art is made directly in the landscape, using the natural materials
that are found there. It was a part of the wider Conceptual art movement
that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

Starting in the late 1950s Minimalism grew from the idea, key to the
Abstract art movement, that art should not seek to represent anything,
but should instead create its own reality. The audience therefore
responds to what is in front of them, typically the material and the form
within which it has been placed.


Walking as Art

Signs, traces and symbols

Since 1967 Richard Long has taken the idea that walking can be seen
as a form of sculpture. This radical idea removes the need for physical
objects, allowing him to measure himself directly against the landscape
as he records his movements through both physical space and the time
that passes. Through this idea the body emerges as Longs primary tool
for making work.

Lines, circles and crosses are important to the work. A line can talk about
constantly moving forwards, whilst also connecting abstract ideas to
ancient traditions of pilgrimage. Circles point towards cycles, linking
the earths movements to the simplest of gestures, whilst crosses serve
to mark space in a definitive manner. Different landscapes are drawn
together through the repetition of these symbols.



Long often sets himself rules such as the distance and shape of a walk
before he begins. These rules form the basis of the work, which is then
realised through the act of walking.

Repetition is important to Long with walks and symbols often repeated

across multiple different sites. Even when repeating the same action
however, no two works are ever the same. The use of repetition reinforces
the ideas within his works whilst also demonstrating the constant
variation and unpredictability of nature, from splashes of mud through to
changes in the landscape.

Whilst walking Long makes site specific sculptures by quietly
rearranging the natural objects around him. These works, typically made
in no more than half an hour, are not preserved but disappear in their own
time, overtaken by the forces of nature.

Creating a record
Long uses photography, maps and text to record his actions, which are
often seen by few people. He favours simple and minimal approaches,
creating a document to help our imagination, rather than adding to
what has already been made. The artwork itself remains the action, be it
walking or rearranging natural objects.
The use of text has been compared to Concrete Poetry, where the visual
arrangement of words and letters contribute to the works meaning.
Whilst there are parallels, Long does not belong to a particular group, but
instead sees writing as another tool at his disposal.

A sense of scale
Scale is important to Long with gestures ranging from making marks
with fingerprints through to walks of up to a thousand miles. Similar
to this, works and ideas often start in locations close to home in Bristol
before spreading out across sites around the world. Regardless of the
place or scale, Long maintains the same approach, applying his language
regardless of what is in front of him.

Using the hands

Through using his hands to directly apply clay, mud and water, there are
parallels between Longs work and indigenous art. His work can be seen
to draw a line from cave painting forwards, looking at mark making and
human interaction within the landscape.


Why do we think of some walks as being art whilst

some are not?
What is the simplest way to record an experience?
Where do you think the different materials in the
show come from?
Why does Richard repeat the same ideas in
different locations?
Does an artwork have the same meaning if its
made close to home or far way?
Whats more important, the action that Richard
Long makes, or the document thats made to
represent it?
What shapes are repeated in Richard Longs work?
Why do you think he chooses to use these shapes?
What tools do you think Richard Long uses?




Aim: To encourage students to see walking as a creative act, either by

measuring the space, or by recording their observations.

Aim: Material is very important in Richard Longs work. These activities

will help student to start thinking more closely about the materials they
use, paying attention to how they feel rather than only how they look.

1. Ask students to measure the gallery space by walking from one side
of the room to the other. How many steps does it take? How much time
passed? After crossing the room once, try again but walking faster,
slower, in large steps or small. Try walking with your eyes closed or on
tip toes. After this, ask students to find other ways to measure the space
using their bodies. This could involve lying top to tail or using their arms.
Questions to ask: What do you notice about the room when you walk
faster or slower? Did you choose to walk in a straight line or did you
make your own path? How else could you measure the space?
2. Ask students to walk across the space and record an observation every
ten steps, using all of their senses. Every student can walk in a different
way, from criss-crossing the room, to walking in a circle. Ask them to
write down their observations, thinking about the different words they
could use.
After this, give each student three sheets of paper and ask them to
present their observations as different text works, experimenting with
both layout and language.
Questions to ask: How did you choose the words to record your
observations? Why did you lay them out in those patterns? Does
the pattern relate to the walk? Do you think the text work you made
accurately documents the walk you took? How do you think you could
continue this activity outside?
Both of these activities can be started in the gallery but should preferably
be continued outside. Ask students to think about different places that
theyd like to explore, using walking as a tool. This could anywhere local
places, where walking becomes a form of mapping, through to places of
special importance.

1. Ask students to close their eyes before handing them a natural object.
Holding the object under the table (so no cheating occurs) ask students
to draw it, depicting what it feels like.
After they have done this, ask them to change objects with the person
next to them and try again.
Encourage students to make the simplest drawings they can. This could
involve asking them to just draw the outline, or drawing the object
without lifting their pencil from the paper.
Questions to ask: Where do you think the object might come from?
What is it like to present how an object feels rather than how it looks?
How can you use different senses to create a record?


Moving sculpture

Creating a work that disappears

Aim: To encourage students to think about how sculpture can be used to

connect different places together.

Aim: To help students understand that artworks can be temporary,

encouraging them to make freely.

1. Starting by looking at Bristol 1967/2015, a sculpture that has been

presented in different landscapes, from Bristol to Ireland.

1. Using natural or degradable materials such as leaves, water and

sticks, ask students to make a sculpture outside the gallery. This could
be as simple as pouring water or arranging sticks to form a pattern on
the ground. Ask all students to document what they have made before
returning to the gallery, thinking about the different ways they could do
this. Later, ask students to go back and look at their sculptures later in
the day to see if it has changed.

Give the students different materials such as string, masking tape or

paper and ask them to make a circle or another Richard Long inspired
symbol on the ground in different places around the building or
harbourside before photographing them.
Questions to ask: Does it make you think differently about these spaces?
If you continued the exercise outside of the gallery where else would
you place your symbol? Name 5 places near where you live that are
important to you, and repeat the activity across these spaces. How does
the meaning of your sculpture change when you present it in different
This activity can be developed by asking students to think of other
symbols that they could use. Further to this they could also experiment,
creating sculptures of different types before photographing them in
multiple locations.

Questions to ask: Can something temporary be considered an artwork?

Does it matter if no one sees what you have made? How else could
you document what you have done? How do you feel about your work
2. Ask your students to make an object, photograph, story or drawing and
leave it in a public space. Ask them to think about where they will leave
it and how they think people will react. Ask them to document what they
have done, using photography.
Questions to ask: Will anyone see what you have made? Do you want it
to be easily identifiable as an intervention, or almost invisible?

Drawing with clay slip

Aim: To use gravity to make different patterns, thinking about natural
phenomena such as tidal patterns, whilst also introducing new
techniques to your students.
1. Take thick paper and give one sheet to each student. Ask them to
dip their sheets into a large tub of clay slip, choosing how much of the
paper to submerge. After this is done, line up the pieces of paper in order
from the most covered to the least. Discuss the affect of gravity with
your students, looking at the patterns that it makes. Discuss what the
sheets of paper could represent, thinking about tidal patterns. Finally, ask
them how else they could use gravity within their work, thinking about
different paints and materials.
This activity can be extended by asking students to think about other
ways to document the river Avon and its tidal movements. Take these
ideas and add them to the paper, either through writing or drawing.
It can be extended by leaving the classroom or gallery. Students could
walk along the river writing or drawing their observations before later
submerging their paper in order to create a documentation of their walk.
Questions to ask: What other ways could there be to document the
rivers tidal activity? What causes tides? What is the simplest way to
show the moons effect on the rivers and tides?

Aim: To think about the different ways that a space can be documented
Collect a range of different papers all cut to the same size. Ask students
to choose a site or a series of sites and complete a different activity on
each sheet that records their chosen place in a different way. Some ideas
could be:
Leave your paper out in the rain or submerge it in a puddle in your
Try to embed a smell from a natural object into your paper
Take a print or rubbing from an object in your location
Record all the sounds you hear over an hour spent in your location
Take photographs, making sure some pages are left blank in order to
include them
After this is done the pages can be bound together to form a book, or
hung up and presented as an exhibition. This could be approached as an
individual or group project.



Richard Long is considered to be among the most important artists of

his generation. In 1969, his work was included in the seminal exhibition
When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern, for which he
presented his first text work documenting a walk made in the Alps. He
won the Turner Prize in 1989, and represented Great Britain at the 37th
Venice Biennale in 1976. Richard Long was made a Royal Academician
in 2001. He was awarded Japans Praemium Imperiale in the field of
sculpture in 2009, and was made a CBE in 2013. He has made artworks
in all seven continents and has had over 250 solo exhibitions to date.

Arnolfini welcomes schools, groups and other education organisations

to engage with our exciting events and exhibitions. All of our school
workshops are facilitated by our experienced Learning and Participation
Team, who actively encourage dialogue in an open environment to
support, challenge and inspire through contemporary art in all its forms.
Our mission is to support teachers and pupils to explore how
contemporary art and creative processes can be used to contextualise
our world; sparking conversation about contemporary issues and
providing a platform for young voices.
Arnolfini gave us a wide ranging and exciting introduction to
contemporary artists work, talking from a number of view-points
and really bringing the exhibition to life.

An extensive public programme has been developed to accompany this
exhibition. Please see our website for further details.

We offer a free 20 minute introduction to our exhibitions as well

as more in depth creative workshops. We can also tailor any of
our workshop sessions to suit the age, interests and requirements
of your group.

Workshops typically cost 100 for 2 hour sessions or 200 for 4

hour sessions.

We also have a schools membership programme whereby your

school pays 350 to join for a year, receiving a minimum of
2 workshops plus a host of other benefits.

You are also welcome to bring your pupils on a self facilitated visit but we
ask that you let us know in advance if you plan to visit the gallery.
To book your workshop or learn more about our schools membership
programme please email or look at our