Thursday 7 March 2013

The Art of Walking - Richard Long and Hamish Fulton

Although most people will travel to a landscape to often merely see it, there are a few who go to landscapes to be inside of them. The likes of Richard Long and Hamish Fulton are often less concerned with the images and art that they create; in fact, it almost becomes a by-product as it is the pleasure and the journey of the walks that they go on, which is paramount.

Richard Long and Hamish Fulton are not landscape photographers, more artists whose work is in the landscape and their journey to that art. Richard Long often makes different forms of art be it, a photograph, or map and text or a sculpture. What he creates in the landscape often reflects what he feels it needs; if the landscape needs a line of stones or a circle of twigs he will make it. The landscape might need a straight line down the middle, inviting the viewer onto his journey (they are traces of staying and passing, the straight line is movement, whereas the circles are a form of staying). There is no special reason, aesthetic or political to make his art, he just feels as an artist, that he has a desire to make it. In a way, his work is designed to be impermanent. The fact that the sun captures the way the grass has been trampled, speaks to our own existence on this planet in that we are fleeting moment in time.

Hamish Fulton works along the same lines, in fact the essay written inside the catalogue ‘An Object Cannot Compete with an Experience’ (a 14 day walking trip to the mountains of Japan with a company of people) sums up both of these artists styles:

“Walking is many things to many people,

From essential transport and pilgrimage to recreation


As an artist

I have chosen to make art about

The physical experience of walking


My walks can be

Short and ritualistic or quite long and demanding

They can be alone or with a group

I can walk from my doorstep

Or from the ground of an international flight


Walking is spiritual not material

And in theory at least

The resulting artworks could be produced in any medium

From a frosted glass window text

To an expedition video.


In the course of travelling I have noted

The following philosophical propositions


An object cannot compete with an experience

(There are no words in nature)


Walking into the distance beyond imagination

(Walks are like clouds they come and go)


The price I pay for not mimicking nature

Is that I am able to recover all my walks in words

(Written words in the artwork

Can describe verbal silence on a walk)


Walking transforms, Walking is magic

(A walk must be experienced it cannot be imagined)"
Notes and Images from: Richard Long:R.H. Fuchs
Essay from: An Object Cannot Compete with an Experience (Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA, Norwich, 16 Feb to 29 April 2001)