Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Long Way

Surely there can be no objections in walking to a Richard Long exhibition? Even if it is only partly from Bristol Temple Meads train station to the Arnolfini. You’ll hear no complaints from me! I don’t have a dog or often seek out ventures to walk in romantic forgotten landscapes but wherever and whenever I do walk, which is everyday and often as a means of getting from A to B, I enjoy it!

Fundamentally Richard Long is an artist who has turned walking into his art form. Simultaneously it is both process and product from which the creative process is conceived and executed. Time, distance, temperature, latitude and longitude become the measurements to which these walks and interactions take place. Since the 1960s Long has been creating work that explores how we move, document and experience walking in the landscape using aesthetic approaches and thinking influenced from conceptual and minimal art practices. In 1972 Long presented ‘Stone Circle’ at Arnolfini, Bristol where now a new exhibition is on display featuring new and previous work from Long’s relationship walking within Bristol and the South West.

“No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep doing it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.”* Murakami’s comment on running could be said as much for Long’s walking and they share testament in the idea that the act of walking/running become very much about thought through physical effort. In Long’s case this physicality of a connection with the land takes form in natural human ancient traces of moving stones or painting with mud. Anyone who has ever walked on their own for over an hour in a particularly remote landscape can relate to the feeling of escapism, isolation and (debatably) humbling smallness this kind of being immersed in the activity of walking can create. What is interesting about Long is how he attempts to bring these quite big, experiential, outdoor ideas into the gallery.

Richard Long 'Muddy Water Falls' (2015) at Arnolfini

In the ground floor of Arnolfini is Long’s exhibition-based work at its most iconic and awe inspiring, ‘Muddy Water Falls’ (the mud of which, appropriately has been taken from the bank of the River Avon). The work brings the outside, in; the mud creating two huge wall-based mud works that appear to cascade down the back walls of the gallery in a partly uncontrolled, partly hand painted piece of cave art. In its smell, texture and earthy rawness it is quite striking and consumes the gallery space on an impressive scale. Long’s wall mud works have a feeling of wildness about them, there is a giving-in to the uncontrollability of the mud as it runs/splashes down the walls but there is also a Sol Lewitt form of control to it as well. The composition is divided between the controlled (i.e. painted back walls) and the spontaneous which whilst alluding to ideas of an implied ‘wildness’ of nature also and more significantly in Long’s work, touches upon our human relationship within it.

 The text-based works also in this room have similar affect, each providing a means of documenting through list based measurements the walks which Long has undertaken. In example, ‘Red Walk’ listing each of the red things spotted during a walk. Conceptually I enjoy the written works as they conjure thoughts of how we process experience, which is so often through memory snap-shots of colours, sounds, landmarks or smells that build-up our relationship with a sense of place. I can also imagine the ideas in Long’s walks have been interpreted many times as ways of getting adults and children alike to engage in the landscape. Whether these works need a gallery context is something I am less sure on and feel that they are best understood acted-upon in the context of the landscape, read in a book or perhaps on an App that prompts you to consider things/look when out on a walk. Artists are already using this such as ‘Poetry Pin’+ by Christopher Jelley which includes stories, poems and hidden objects to spot and interact with along various walks in and around Somerset.

Richard Long 'Time and Place' (2015) at Arnolfini

Circles and cross motifs and lines are reoccurring symbols in Long’s work and feature in sculptural and photographic works in the upstairs gallery. ‘Time and Space’ (pictured) is a new work made from slate taken from a quarry in Cornwall whom Long has worked with for many years. X literally marks the spot with the cross being assembled in the heart of the gallery, its motif sharing symbolism with points of a compass and other mapping devises. In the room opposite a series of concentric circles mark the central floor space, a sculptural piece which has been placed in many different sites including The Downs in Bristol and in locations throughout the Irish countryside. It is at this point I realise how far reaching Long’s work has been and ‘walked’ from photographic works that depict walks in the Himalayas to Antarctica.

I have expressed an uncomfortable uncertainty toward land art in gallery spaces before, believing it is a double-edged sword that on the positive side provides exposure/education to this type of work but on the negative side feels sometimes a little too detached, forced to conform  and sterile from its starting source of the landscape. Maybe that juxtaposition in itself is interesting.  There is a new work titled, ‘Boyhood Line’ on The Downs in Bristol as part of this exhibition that I didn’t get to see but have seen Long’s work outside in Cornwall previously, often accidently crossing  or stumbling over his line arranged stones! I think these interactions with his work are more genuine and whereas work inside the gallery reacts more architecturally to space these respond more to the human body and our location within the landscape it is placed. Both perhaps, are important in documenting/preserving and ensuring (pardon the pun) the longevity of this artists work.

Richard Long, 'Time and Space' in Arnolfini is a point of departure and after leaving the exhibition should really mark the beginning of a new experience of noticing and engaging with world outside. The exhibition continues outside the gallery...

Richard Long ‘Time and Space’ can be seen at Arnolfini until Sunday 15th November 2015

*Haruki Murakami ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Somerset Art Weeks 2015

Saturday October the 3rd marks the opening of an exciting new gallery and studio space in Wellington Somerset. 'The Old Brick Workshop' where I along with eleven other artists will be exhibiting for Somerset Art Weeks 2015.

Saturday 3rd October to Sunday 18th October, daily  11.00-06.00pm
At: The Old Brick Workshop, Higher Poole, Wellington TA219HW
Directions: From Chelston roundabout follow signs for Poole Ind.Est and Recycling Centre. The Venue is on your left opposite Formula Cars. [Follow the yellow Somerset Art Week Signs for Venue 1]
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Something(s) Wicked This Way Comes!

That's right! When I'm not visiting, writing about or talking about art I do try squeeze some time to indulge in the process of making my own! On that note there are a few news related items this week as projects and art happenings that have been brewing away begin to bare fruition...


'Yellow Hammer' (pictured above) accepted into Ilminster Art Open at The Meeting House. Mono print/ink on paper. First drawing of a few new 'tool' related pieces of which retrospectively I feel is now the least successful in how it was drawn/placed compositionally but has lead to other work(s) ideas that I am more pleased with. This piece, originally intended [and is] as part of the art zine project (mentioned below) and works better within its printed, page context  as I've added details/text/format to make it more of a parody of a bird spotting guide book, rather than being quite the 'one-liner' it appears as here. However, elements of how this was printed/painted have since been used in other work (watch this space) so it marks an important, albeit slightly tentative beginning to new work that has followed.


swarm (n)– a temporary collection of bees, containing at least one queen that split apart from the mother colony to establish a new one; a natural method of propagation for honey bee colonies.

Through a competitive, megalomaniac driven act of plagiarism, 'Swarm' visual art zine was born. Shameless; a hybrid off-shoot of its 'sister' zine 'Hive'! Maybe I got greedy, maybe too ambitious, but being part of 'Hive' had feverishly inspired me that what the art world was missing was, well more art! The aim to make my own zine with friends whom I'd met/known over the years who could 'Swarm' together and celebrate each others work!

'Swarm' is basically a smaller more compact version of 'Hive', hosting a printed platform from which a select group of contributing creatives produce work to a set theme which is then produced into zines distributed to each of the participating artists. There is no profit, they aren't for sale but exist as a exclusive slice of owning and participating in something that is quite intimately special. To those involved its purpose to provide a fun outlet to both make work, share it and discover new artists!

The button badges are ready, the covers have been made and the work has slowly been flying in for the publication of this project toward the end of September! More news here when its out!


 Speaking of which, the 'Hive' 2# will arrive on September 23rd, once more featuring the artistic workings of Nina Gronw-Lewis, Jon England, Anna Newland-Hooper, Malcolm Plastow, Frank Edmonds, Eileen Rosamond, Megan Calver,  Kevin Hawker, Stuart Rosamond*, Tim Martin, Ruby Petts, me (Natalie Parsley) and joined by a new contributor Rico Ajao!

*Image by Stuart Rosamond from 'Hive' 1


Spent a significant proportion of yesterday looking, chiselling and hammering away at this section of brick wall at Somerset's most exciting, upcoming NEW exhibition space in the former Virador Waste Management Offices in Wellington. Looking further back into the buildings' history in the 19th Century when it was home to Poole Brickworks it has since been dubbed the Old Brick Workshop (and, my there are a LOT of bricks!). The building boasts nine self contained studios and communal space (currently occupied by local artists). OBW will host activities and workshops and is soon to have its own exhibition space opening in time for the public during Somerset Art Weeks 2015 on the 3rd of October! 

As if that wasn't exciting enough, I am  deliriously delighted that myself and a dozen other artists will be amongst the first to exhibit in this new venue during Art Weeks. Featuring amongst others, Alex Conetta, James Marsden, Anna Newland Hooper, Diana Pilcher, Debbi Sutton, Jane Mowat, Teresa Wilson, Ashley Thomas, Jane Kelly and Judith Crosher.

More details as and when it happens, you'll hear it here first!

We are Venue 1, The Old Brick Workshop

The Old Brick Workshop
 Higher Poole
TA21 9HW

In the mean time, pick up a preview of our venue in the Somerset Art Weeks catalogue for 2015 or visit link below:

Look out for the propeller!