We finally got over to the Hepworth Wakefield yesterday to see the Richard Long “Artists Rooms” exhibition which is taking place until 14 October. There are works from the Tate, the National Museum of Wales and a private collection as well as two new site-specific commissions. It was as good as we expected.
One thing about Richard Long is that the titles he gives his creations are pretty clear cut – typically describing their form or shape and what they are made of.
In room10 there were three works
Cornish Slate Ellipse, 2009 is constructed from irregular blocks of a pale grey slate laid out in a random, but deliberate, structured, pattern.
It’s similar to the South Bank Circle that’s currently on display in the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, although, as the title describes, its elliptical rather than a circle. As the blocks are near enough the same height, the work is almost two dimensional.
The second piece laid out on the floor in room 10, Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle, 2011, is different. Not just because it’s a circle rather than an ellipse. The stone is more colourful with veins of red (probably iron oxide) running through many of the blocks. The individual blocks are also much more irregular in shape and height and had a “rougher”, less finished appearance. As a consequence the work was much more three dimensional .
I thought it was a more interesting work due to this variability in shape, height and colour.
The third work in gallery 12, Water Falls, 2012, had been created especially for the exhibition. A large black rectangle had been painted on one of the walls, extending from the floor to the ceiling. On this, the artist had painted swirling patterns at the top and the middle using a thin slurry of china clay. Drips of this slurry extended down the walls
Some of the slurry had hit the floor and bounced back upwards creating a denser region of clay at the bottom of the wall.
Somerset Willow Line, a work from 1980, had been installed in Room 7. This consists of a large number of willow twigs, about a foot long, laid out in a seemingly random pattern on the floor to create a long narrow path.
It was an interesting work although I agree with the review on the Aesthetica Magazine blog about the lack of contrast between the willow twigs and the mid grey coloured floor spoiling the effect, at least to some extent.
Also in Room 7 there was a “text work” inscribed along one of the walls
I thought this was much less interesting than the other works on display.
In the smaller Room 8, there were a photographs of a number of his works created in situ in the “wild” and a couple of books he had made where the pages had been dipped in river water or mud which had been allowed to dry out creating some interesting patters and effects.
I find his works interesting but also I find them calming. They appear simple but have layers of complexity in the way they are constructed. At first glance the stones, twigs and patterns of paint appear as if they have been laid out randomly, but they have clearly be laid out quite deliberately. This can be seen on the video of Richard Long installing the works which can be seen on the Hepworth’s website.
I also noticed something when I was looking at the photographs I took during the visit (photography was allowed in the exhibition – a pleasant change) after I downloaded from my camera during the evening. They were colour photographs, but as the materials he works with a predominantly grey, black and white or pale coloured, and the walls and floors in the gallery are light grey, it almost looks as if I’d taken monochrome shots.
Visiting the Hepworth involves a trip over the Pennines – a 75 minute drive over the M62. But it was well worth it to see this exhibition.
There’s an interview with Richard Long on the Guardian website here.