Crazy paving?

There’s an exhibition of work by Richard Long at The Hepworth Wakefield at the moment. It’s on my list of places to visit, but I’ll need to get a move on as it finishes on the 14th October.

In the meantime I was pleased to be able to see one of his works while we were visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last Saturday. Red Slate Line, a work created in 1986, has ben installed on the south bank of the  Upper Lake, an area of the estate that wasn’t accessible until earlier this year, to coincide with the Hepworth exhibition.


Like many of his works, it’s an arrangement made from stone laid out in a way that can appear random but is very deliberate, creating a distinct shape. In this case it’s made of red slate from the border of Vermont and New York State in the USA.  Mathematically, a line has only one dimension, so this work is, strictly speaking, a long, thin rectangle. It looks like a path of “crazy paving” although it’s not laid flat, the individual pieces of slate overlaying and overlapping.

The line runs down a slight drop towards the shore of the lake, which looked very attractive on a sunny, late summer afternoon.


I first encountered Richard Long’s work at the Tate in Liverpool where one of the exhibits in the LA Piper Series: This is Sculpture exhibition is this piece, “South Bank Circle”  originally created for his 1991 retrospective at the Hayward Gallery at the South Bank Centre in London.The circle, which is two metres in diameter , is made up of 168 pieces of Cornish slate. The work’s title relates to it’s original location on the south bank of the Thames. Now it’s in Liverpool it’s actually on the north bank of the Mersey.

File:South Bank Circle by Richard Long, Tate Liverpool.jpg

Image source: Wikipedia

What has always intrigued me about these works is that they are moved around and that must change how they are arranged. It must be impossible to position the pieces of stone in exactly the same positions in relation to each other, and this would be particularly difficult where the ground isn’t flat, as is the case at the YSP. And I doubt that the artist is always present when his works are installed at their new sites. So it was interesting to read these instructions from the artist on the Tate website about the “South Bank Circle”

The pieces may be assembled in a wide variety of configurations within the defining form of the circle. Long has specified that every ‘stone’ should touch the stones adjoining it, so that they all become ‘”locked” together, and stable. The longest stones (and also the thinnest and smallest ones) should be placed within the work and not around the edge. There is an equal density of stone throughout, and overall the work should look balanced and circular’

I guess similar instructions must be provided for all his works, including the “Red Slate Line” and those in the Hepworth exhibition.

2 thoughts on “Crazy paving?

  1. Looks like several in the blogging world were at the park on Saturday. You might like to look at miladysboudoir and see what she thought.

    • Hi Janet. Thanks for the comment.

      I follow miladysboudoir and regularly read her posts. It was quite a coincidence that we were both there at exactly the same time on Saturday

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