Richard Long

So is the photograph above art ?

I’ll come back to that question in a moment.  I feel incredibly fortunate that not far from where I live I have both the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the amazing new kid on the block The Hepworth Gallery, which was rightly shortlisted for the Sterling Architecture prize.  However great as the architecture of the gallery is, it’s what goes on inside it that is most important for me.  In it’s short life I have been consistently wowed by the work that has been displayed and I look forward with each visit to being challenged and informed in equal measure.  I don’t know much about art, am not trained in it in any way and have never studied it, but I hope that my approach as bumbling amateur gives me a freshness to look at things and the constant ability to be surprised.  I’ve not known many of the artists that have so far been displayed at the Hepworth but I was very excited over the summer when I heard that they were going to have a Richard Long season and that he was going to produce two new works for the show.

The first new piece was the line in the grass above which is a reprise of his classic A Line Made By Walking from 1967 and the second was Waterfall below

What was brilliant for me about the show was the conversations that it enabled me to have with my kids about what is art.  Both of these ‘pieces’ (like much of Richard’s work) were temporary  – the grass will be cut and the wall will be painted over – so they only exist for a short space in time.  This goes against the whole notion of art as a ‘piece of art’ as much of Richard’s work you would not know had ever existed if photographs had not been taken of it.  The kids were not convinced by the line in the grass as being art or indeed the line of stones at the Sculpture Park which accompanied this exhibition and looked very tempting for some sort of game of hopscotch ! but they were happy with the Water fall and indeed the stones circles.  We chatted about both the stones circles and the grass both effectively being natural objects that were being placed in a particular way and it was fascinating to get their view on it.  This was brilliantly helped by the family resources that the Hepworth produce (which to my mind are some of the best I’ve seen at a museum) that really get children to look at the art and think about it in a way that is interesting, informative and never patronizing.

I personally thought the exhibition was stunningly brilliant, there was a real ephemeral feel to the work that made me think of our own small transitory part in the world together with that of the nature that is all around us.  So big thumbs up from me, for the work, the way the exhibition enabled discovery and illumination in children and adults alike.  Can’t wait for the next event.