Response to Richard Long

Richard Long

Richard Long – A Line Made By Walking.

A man walks and walks, and keeps on walking but what does he create, what does he leave behind? A line in a field that leads towards, or away from trees. A line that could have been made yesterday, a thousand years ago or tomorrow. There is no cultural trace that pinpoints time. It is a subtle rub of human endeavour that was made in our time but talks with the past. A single note that sounds back to a dark song of the ancestors – scratching around and exploring their untested earth in excited fear. There are also closer echoes, for me. Reminiscences of boyhood touchlines – penalty box boundaries or hard-beaten escape routes to the woods, the burn and the den.

I know a little of Richard Long and his working methods. But if you came across this line with no back story what would you think? You would be aware of a human presence but perhaps not how it came to be there, what it’s purpose is or if indeed there is one. A line on the earth resonates with most people. Is it a benign boundary or a troubled border, murderously argued between warring nations. The thing that makes us ‘us’ and them ‘them’. Take it away and what happens? A loss of tribe or a gaining of community? Or just confusion? So often a line is used as a marker to control chaos.
The line may not divide at all but may be a link – between here and there, a current state and an aspirational one – a journey in itself through variable zones both physical and mental, the original psychogeography.

Paul Klee famously took a line for a walk – Long took a walk for a line and with it rediscovered the beginning of all possibility – then let it disappear.

Cleansing Fire

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I had a wee bonfire going in the fire pit today. There was a pile of not good enough artwork from college to get rid of. It was great to see them go up on flames – no point in keeping weak work. I know it is often said that you should never throw any old art out but I’ve never agreed with that idea. I think there is a kind of evolutionary thing going on where only keeping the stronger stuff, as a reference point, will lead to better work.

Final Sketchbook Pages

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These are some of the pages from my final college sketchbook. I scanned them instead of the usual photo method which I think is better and may be the way to go. I really enjoyed doing them, working paint, glue, ink and bleach in with my fingers. I’m really proud of them and I think they are some of my favourite things I’ve done. I enjoyed the college year and was kind of sad that it had to end. However, come September, I’ve got the bigger challenge of art school – exciting and daunting in equal measure.

I just realised that this is my first blog post in June. I have to remedy that. I’ll need to get into the creative groove again though – I’ve been a bit slack since college effectively ended a couple of weeks back. The artshed has fallen into chaos again so that needs seeing to and I need to sort out the college paraphernalia before starting any new work.

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Back in the Groove

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Had a day of just playing with collage and paint today at college. Made a nice change from the fiddly and tiresome finishing up projects I’ve been doing of late. Some of these A4 pieces are more successful than others – but they’re just glorified sketchbook work – probably not going to lead anywhere.

I think with the news being so grim just now it was nice to get my head down and get lost in work for a while.

Work For Sale/Exhibition

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Our college class has it’s end of year exhibition starting on Thursday night. It’s at Rosie’s Cafe in Rosemount here in Aberdeen. It’s a charity based venture so 20% of the profits go to them which is great. Most folk have one or two works for sale but I managed to get six together – although I had planned ten. My works are priced at £50 each, which is at the lower end of the scale. I would just be delighted if I sold one of them. I’ve sold a lot of stuff to people I know but it would be a breakthrough for me if a stranger saw a work of mine, liked it, and paid to have it on their wall. Given the current financial climate I’m not too hopeful but you never know.

Fabulous Writing Etcetera

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Charlotte Brontë’s tiny poem – 1829

– The Brontë sisters often wrote their works in a minuscule handwriting on whatever scraps of paper they could find. A magnifying glass is often required to read the texts. This early poem from a 13-year-old Charlotte was scrawled on a three-inch square paper. Scholars believe the miniature handwriting was a way for the sisters to hide their work from prying eyes and due to the expense of paper at that time. Others suggest it’s the scale that the sisters’ beloved toy soldiers would have written in, since the playthings were an integral part of their childhood fantasy world that inspired their earliest works. –

I pinched the above from the fabulous art propelled tumblr page. You can probably guess I take inspiration from some of the work posted there. Anyway, I love handwriting and use it in my work occasionally. The teeny script above is wonderful – makes me want to go and fetch some dip pens and ink and get scribbling.

I haven’t posted much of late but I have been busy. Still working on the song series of constructions for the exhibition in a couple of weeks. I seem to be having a little trouble finishing them – there about six that are just about done – just need that wee final push to get them to exhibit standard (or sale standard).

Much as it is nice to sit and blog, my time may be better spent in the art department. More to come though.