Post 8 - April 2016
Walking continually along the National Park Boundary marked on the map has given an opportunity to connect with the land in a stronger way. Originally I had intended to do the whole walk and sleep overnight but ,had to walk ‘Terfyn y Twll’ in parts, due to weather conditions ,time limitations etc. However, I started off at the exact place where I had finished the last walk, as close to a circle as possible, of course.
The boundary is fenced, most of the way, a sheep fence to keep the stock in or out. This allows the SNP to impose grazing restrictions within the park and to monitor the environmental impact on the land. Sheep are the main animals on the hills of this area and, given the harsh weather conditions, there were the inevitable bones! I have always been drawn to collecting bones, and spent many hours drawing them. As a sculptor, I am particularly drawn to their structure and form. The sheep bones that I collected were always picked clean and washed and bleached by the rain and sun.
These found and collected bones express the concept of ‘time’ and ‘place’ as much as the slate which Richard Long used in his piece. They are a material that is undergoing a process of change influenced by the environmental conditions albeit in a much quicker time span.
My ninth and final circle in the series became the’ Bone Circle’.
|Circle 9 - Bones|
I return to my experience of ‘looking in ‘ (to the hole) created by the boundary line on the map as I mentioned on my last blog and in particular to the ‘Fools Gold’, which I kept coming across in the slate.
|Iron Pyrites in Slate|
The Iron Pyrites occurs as a complex cube crystal system, a sulphide material which occurs in the metamorphic rock –slate. It’s minimal forms were very much in line with the concepts I was following in my’ Cut Out’ Book series, and so both forms and colour (from collected pigment) gave expression to another two small concertina books.
|Pyrite Vein 1|
|Pyrite Vein 2|
I’m not sure at this stage how to bring all these small walking books together but one idea is to photograph them and include them in my Blaenau Ffestiniog Circles Book of collaborative walks which will include the circular walks of my studio group. This is going to give me a lot more work, but it might also be a way to change the process to one of a reflective analysis of the walks and to make the decision to bring them to a conclusion.
We have a meeting this Weds; March 23rd so will discuss the possible content and practical possibilities.
I have also returned to re -photograph all the installed Circles in Plas Brondanw with the help of my daughter Lowri Pendrell who is a photographer. They have been photographed as a series which has now been concluded and I hope to be able to exhibit them as a grid of photographs alongside one of the actual circles.
Deciding which of the Circles to install (should I get the opportunity) is an interesting one as they are so different and, of course, will have a different presence according to where they are placed. I find the ‘Boot Hill Circle’ one of the most poignant and re -looking at it made me think of the importance of boots within my walking project and also at the decomposed or burnt leather of which the Hill was formed and which I collected on that walk.
Boots and shoes have many cultural and superstitious connections and recently whilst viewing an old house that was for sale, the farmer showed me an old boot that he had found in the wall. These ‘concealed shoes/boots’ were deliberately hidden in many old houses and people believed that they were protective. It is a mysterious subject as no one knows exactly why, but the fact that the boot or shoe was shaped as a ‘container’ (container of the spirit) remains one of the strongest beliefs.
I decided to explore this open container form using some of the materials of the walk, as a way of combining both concept and material and began by sifting the found leather and using it as a surface material to make a leather vessel.
|Leather from Boot Hill|
This was followed by the ‘Fools Gold’ vessel made of gold leaf, its cargo being a piece of the found iron pyrites.
|Leather and Fools Gold Vessels|
I had to include one of my peat vessels (made for one of the circles) and also decided to use slate, not as a solid material but by sifting the chips I found on the slate tips and using the resulting dust as a surface skin as for the leather. This circle of vessels was clearly becoming an enquiry not only into the collected material but the material that was found on the surface and below the surface of the land.
|Circle of Vessels|
I completed the circle of 6 vessels using lead and copper as they were mined alongside the slate quarries of this area.
Post 7 - December to January 2016
One of my challenges, working with larger scale installations has been locating an appropriate space, floor or otherwise, which is large enough to install and photograph the work. I have in the past few years moved from a larger barn studio, which I rented, to a smaller custom built wooden studio in my garden .There are pluses and minuses to both and these characteristics can have an impact on the work.
Installing and photographing the Circle Series have posed such a challenge with the initial space for exploring the concept being my living room floor .At the end of last year I managed to arrange an opportunity to re-photograph the work, in Plas Brondanw, the home of Clough Williams Ellis, which is near my studio. It stands empty at the moment awaiting conversion to become a museum and art gallery and has wonderful wooden floors.
The resulting photographs are not satisfactory but an improvement in parts.
|Circle 3 - Peat Boat Circle|
|Circle 8-Terfyn y Twll-Boundary circle|
|Circle 4 - Grass circle|
All are examples of the Circle installations placed within the context of a room and window.
I also have others of just the circle on the floor. I took the images in JPG format and therefore can only edit to a certain degree. Had I photographed in a RAW format I could eliminate the reflected light from the floor.
It was time for the Studio group which originated last April to meet up again. Of the nine that came to my initial talk, approx 5 want to continue as a group and take part in the intended collaborative Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle Book .Meeting before Christmas was a challenge but despite the fact that many couldn’t attend, it was very productive.
Here are examples of feedback and contributions –
“Long invents walks to express an idea… [and] … sees man through nature, and reminds us of his presence through his absence”.
Being part of Marged’s Blaenau Ffestiniog Circles group has provided a rare opportunity to work alongside other artists and poets, in an open exploration, sharing our working and thinking. I’m enjoying the interaction of ideas and processes, responding to Long and Marged’s circles work, and the connection to the Retake-Reinvent project as a whole. My response so far has been to wander and wonder in circles within Blaenau Ffestiniog (as part of the furniture*), seeking visual, auditory and physical traces of women, past and present. It’s quite tricky because women are largely missing from the history of Blaenau (and what is said of them is not at all complimentary - “obsessed with furniture, finery and niknaks, poor cooks, lacking in thrift"). It’s been a fun and interesting exploration so far. The next step is to begin some conversational circles, starting with clues from conversations I had during my circular wanderings.
* “A person or thing that has been somewhere so long as to seem a permanent, unquestioned or invisible feature of the landscape” …
Lindsey Colbourne - artist
In the song "Solid Ground", Irish folk singer Dolores Keane says, "You cannot own the land, the land owns you". Collaborating with the artists involved in Marged's project, feels as though we are each celebrating the ways in which the land has taken possession of us. Sharing our practice and process is highlighting the intensely personal relationship each of us has with the land - with what is on it and of it. Together and alone, we are following threads - the journeys are mostly separate yet powerfully inter connective. And, for me, it has meant a paradigm shift regarding the concept of "going around in circles".
Jill Teague - writer
And so another year begins. I look at my studio wall to reflect on the project so far and it’s now full of maps.
|Map of Circle Walk|
|Detail of Map of Circle walks|
|Map of walks along the Snowdonia National Park boundary|
I am reminded that my working process begins by marking a circular walk on an OS map of the Blaenau Ffestiniog area with the intention of walking within or on the boundary of that circle.
I returned to Long and remembered reading the words of Anne Seymour in the book Richard Long –Walking in Circles.
“A map is made so we can find our way from one place to another whether in nature or in the mind, not only once, but again and again. Maps record these visible and invisible paths which are created by various kinds of touching…….
It is said that the brain works in terms of ratio and proportion, in other words measurement To trace its relationship to nature and reality the human body operates many simultaneous systems of measurement based on the senses .The human body has always been both a system of measurement and a map, both of without and within, a recorder of time and space….
-‘Page 8 Anne Seymour-Richard Long’ Walking in Circles ‘
I also relooked at the book ‘The Map as Art’ – Katharine Harmon, and am reminded that-
“Conventional maps can do no more than point the way to unpredictable, individual experience, while artworks embody those experiences.”
Page 15 -The Map as Art-Katharine Harmon
I’m beginning to realize that all aspects of this exploration are as equally important as each other. Everything I have done up to now has been part of one piece of work .How do I bring it all together?
I return to the map of the national park boundary line .I still have one part of the boundary to walk, along the ridge of Moel Penamnen and Moel Fras and am unsure as yet if I will walk it or not. It might be an interesting decision not to complete the circle and explore what this means?
In the meantime I am exploring the physical experience of looking in and looking out of the boundary line .Looking into ( the’ twll’) the area around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog with its grey slate quarries and tips of slate waste.
|National park boundary line cut as defined in 1951 over map 1919|
Much of what I see, around the town, is the inside of the mountains (quarry waste), the invisible made visible.
Walking amongst this quarry waste, the inside of the mountains, I come across some Iron Pyrites (Fools Gold) which has always fascinated me. Seeing it here within the context of all this grey waste , the name Fools Gold takes on a rather poignant metaphorical connotation and on which I shall return to.
Before ending this post, my small books exploring the ‘cutout’ continue, with an exploration of the lakes and the layers of slate, using blue pastel and found slate powder.
Post 6 November 2015
Went to see the Richard Long exhibition ‘Time and Space ‘in the Arnolfini Bristol.
I found the text works particularly interesting. The earlier text works were mainly focused on actual, physical activities-‘real stones, real time, real actions’. His use of language in later works moves away from pure descriptive to something that is more poetic, reminiscent of the Japanese Haiku style. It becomes a way of looking at the physical world in a deeper sense. As a retrospective it also reconnected me with the old alongside the new.
Returning to the studio and to the walk I referred to in blog 5 –walking the boundary of the National Park around Blaenau Ffestiniog. I decided to make a series of walks as following the boundary line was more complex than I had considered. It ended up in 7 walks of various lengths to cover the whole boundary, ending and starting in the same place .I walked miles! Have called the series’ Terfyn y Twll’-Boundary of the Hole.
|Journal pages with jigsaw of walks and studio|
I’m not going to document all the walks here but have done so in my journal. Here is an example of the thinking process behind some of the work and its development.
Journal page of-walk 2 –Terfyn y Twll from Bwlch y Rhosydd to the Crimea Pass
|Walk 2: Terfyn y Twll|
First small book that was done in situ and its development to -
|Cut Out Boundary Book|
As the walk was Terfyn y Twll,I decided to work with the hole, the cutout.
I also decided to simplify the forms even further into geometric shapes, e.g. the grey slate tip alongside the green mountain became the two triangles. The boundary goes right through these triangles, the slate tip not being included but the green mountain is within the boundary. Walking through these two echoing shapes started my thought process of what is in and what is out of the National Park and to approach it as a cutout.
Journal page of walk 3 –from The Crimea Pass to Moel Penamnen
A fourth book made in 4 parts using collected peat, and red copper pigment. Here are a couple of pages.
Cut out Twin Peaks
Cut out red Bog Grass
I also increased the scale of some of these cut out forms, making larger drawings with peat.
I am still working with the material from Terfyn y Twll.
On walk 5 from Foel Fras through old Cwt y Bugail quarry to Cwm Teigl I came across a ’Found Circle’ which will be part of my Circle series.
Trying to tie all these walks together as one’ Circle’ work has been challenging.
I had however been collecting earth, found and discarded objects on each of the walks .They became the constant of the circle and I kept them in small glass jars.
Placing these small collecting pots next to each other in a circle gave the result I was looking for.
Terfyn Y Twll Circle
The overall focus is not so much on what the glasses ‘contain’ as the fact that they all contain and reflect the light. Collectively, they communicate a quality that is expressive of both inside and outside as well as the main element of all the walks-water.
Post 5 - September 2015
“If you make work about land you are making a political statement as well as an aesthetic one”
This quote of Chris Drury’s is becoming more evident in my work .Spending an extended time in this area has broadened my enquiry into the historical ,socio-economic and political elements that have created such a landscape.
This however is an element that doesn’t come into Richard Long’s work, his ideas are about time and space in a broader context and his interaction and engagement purely with land and Nature. A part of me is fighting the political element raised .
In August I set off on a very long walk (of 9 hours) Walk 11 –Crimea Circle to explore the area of land to the North of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
As I mentioned earlier, I do want there to be a collaborative element within this project and despite there being nine interested from the studio group, only Jan could join on this walk (maybe she lived to regret it! ) On a walk of this length the ideas develop through the physical process of walking. The mind gradually quietens and the feet take over, particularly if the terrain is challenging (as this was).
Walk 11- Crimea Circle.
The small books I have been making of each walk exist as a more conceptual or poetic way of recording the experience. Some of the text is descriptive but I am also exploring ways with words of relating to the landscape in a deeper way. Will re look at Basho’s Haiku Poetry and ‘His Narrow Road to the Deep North’.
This particular walk (walk 11 –Crimea Circle) became one that focused on time and space, with water and light becoming the predominant qualities. The clarity of reflection in the numerous lakes gave the landscape more of a physical depth, their reflections displaced the solidity of the landscape and fragmented the walk, giving an alternative narrative of movement through the landscape.
It was with these concepts in mind that I explored using mirrors within the next Circle series –
Circle 7- Crimea Glass Circle.
Initially I kept to the same format/scale /location of the other circles (floor of the house) but it didn’t work very well .The idea was to use the reflective quality to mirror the environment in which they are placed which when they were placed outside, began to work.
I realize I was stepping into Robert Smithson and territory I hadn’t intended to explore
(i.e. including manmade objects) but a path that arose from the actual walk.
Here is a quote from one of his essays “Incidents of mirror-Travel in the Yucatan 1969”
“I’m using the mirror because the mirror in a sense is both the physical mirror and the reflection: the mirror as a concept and abstraction; then the mirror as fact within the mirror of the concept”Selected Interviews with Robert Smithson –Fragments of conversation-Edited by William C . Lipke
Returning to Walk 5 – Cwt y Bugail Quarry and the film that Jan Woods did as a documentary record of the walk. She has now edited it into a short 5 min film.
Originally she wanted to include the image of’ Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle’ by Richard Long as a context for the walk but, even as an image within my journal, we hit up against copyright issues. So, back to the drawing board, we are considering describing the image instead.
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned the political issue....According to the National Park website, when the boundary of the Park was drawn up in 1950, it –
“did not satisfy the criteria of exceptional natural beauty”
My initial response came out as a concept of defining the boundary as the edge of a hole-and decided to name the series of walks -Terfyn y Twll-Boundary of the Hole.
My next step is to walk the boundary as close as possible to the map definition .It will have to be done in sections as its quite a large area, so find out how I get on, on my next blog post.
I revisited the Peat Circle experiments I did earlier on and decided to include it as one of my circle series.
Circle 8 – Peat Boundary Circle
The weather has become wintry again with snow on high ground, limiting the walks I had planned. Currently reading ‘On –Walking’ by Phil Smith which gives a very different perspective on walking, highly recommended. Phil Smith is a performer, writer, artist-researcher and academic.
I focus instead on working with the mountain grasses I have collected on previous Blaenau walks and explore the contrasting qualities created by bundling them together.
Interesting to explore the rigidity of this white, mountain grass which looks so soft in its natural location. It appears to dominate the higher landscapes at this time of the year.
Working on Circle 4 I chose to explore a decagon circular form that echoes the manmade straight edges of these quarried lands, the human intervention, buildings, railways etc.
|Circle 5 Straight Grass|
As a contrast, Circle 6 focuses on the soft qualities of the red brown bog grass. This grows only in this peat bog area and it was the material that influenced the iron bundles in Circle 2.This grass is rather tough and wiry but I wanted to convey the lightness and airiness that is also associated with the peat bogs.
|Circle 6 - Grass|
This exploration of opposites is a theme that occurs throughout my practice.
Slate, which is at the heart of this enquiry, begins its life as a layer of soft sediment and with time and compression ends up as the hard material it is today.
What about my walks?
I ventured out on May 12th towards the Crimea Pass just above Blaenau, planning to do quite a long walk along the high ridges that form the crest of the Gloddfa Ganol mines.
As I hit the peak of Moel Dyrnogydd my feet went from under me with the force of the wind and I crawled away from the edge heading down for some shelter. Cold wind and rain meant that I had to shelter in one of the quarry ruins to eat my lunch. Now I know why its called the Crimea! Although I have since found out that there was a pub there called the Crimea which housed a number of Russian internees who built the stone walls on those exposed mountains.
Feeling rather frustrated but happy to be sheltered I started to notice the amount of lichen on the rocks all around, an oasis in the bleakness.
My hands were too cold to do much drawing so I captured the miniature colorful maps with photographs. My walk became very inward and the remainder of my time was spent following the contours of these circles on the rocks.
Heading for home feeling colder than I had done all winter I noticed as I came down once more towards the Crimea a circle of brown (peat?) and remembered that I had seen it before and wondered what it was, why there was nothing growing on it?
I was too cold to take a look but returned the next day.
I return, to this-
I couldn’t resist bringing some back to the studio.
|Collections from Boot Hill|
|Steel heel and sole caps - buckles, nails and hobnails|
They became Circle 6 – Boot Circle.
|Circle 6 - Boot Circle|
These remains have given me echoing thoughts of Auschwitz and the parallels with quarry men’s boots. They have made me reflect on the nature of walking now, as a pleasurable activity compared to the lives of these soldiers and miners.
I spent some time handling and drawing them for my small book and it felt very poignant. I feel as if there is much more work to be done on these found pieces.
|Walk 10 Boot Circle|
The second group visit took place on June 19th with 2 more, Lindsey and Ruth joining us.
Some of the original group had been on their own walks and had documented and created work based on the walk. They shared their experiences with the group and we had many interesting discussions resulting from this. The aim is to collate the documented walks into a book as part of my Dispersed Collection Series.
Interesting that many of them were interested in the inhabitants of Blaenau Ffestiniog and the cycle of their lives – the cultural links with the landscape - which is an area I haven’t explored as yet.
We discussed the potential of doing a combined walk and arranged to meet on August 5th in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Post 3 – April 2015
My main focus this month has been on Material in particular the peat which I collected from Rhosydd bog on 25/03/15 and has been drying in my studio ever since.
I began experimenting both in 2D and 3D:
I began by working on paper both in the journal and in a larger drawing (which is in progress) .
I found that there were subtle differences in colour and texture according to location.
|Peat circle drawing|
I worked one layer upon another exploring the contrasting qualities of lightness and fluidity on paper as opposed to the density and darkness of the material in solid form. This is ongoing, left for now as I am not sure how or if to push it further.
Experimental piece, working with peat as a material within a contained boundary of a circle of garden earth.
Although this was a quick response to an idea, it was a strong statement on boundaries, isolation and had a political statement over and above the material.
It would be interesting to explore this idea on a larger scale in a gallery.
The physical handling and manipulation of material plays an important part in my working process. The following installation explores the way the material contains the circle as a void.
|Peat and acrylic|
|Peat and Scar Circles. Peat, acrylic, felt and thread|
I enjoy working in this intuitive way. Most of the works are documented photographically and dismantled.
However, the main reason I was drawn to collect peat was as a material to explore form and to use within the context of my Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle Series.
I might have mentioned my experimental processes of working peat in past blogs, but if not, just to reaffirm that this process has been going on in the background with some degree of success.
I have cast 28 small peat boats to date and, as with the other circles, installed them on my living room floor.
This circle would benefit by being bigger in scale and will need more boats cast to explore the concentric circle as 3 lines instead of 2 as shown. So, for now will continue the process of casting more peat boats and install to document again later.
Just to reflect on the use of ritual boats as subject matter. I was particularly inspired by the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo whilst being filmed for a documentary on my working process for S4C in 2006 .Most of these boats had been unearthed and preserved in peat bogs.
I wanted to recreate my peat boats as unearthed objects.
The documentary called –“Chwarae Chwiw a Danedd Dad” can be viewed on the Director- Eilir Pierce’s website www.pbshowfolio/eilirpierce
Returning to the’ Blaenau Ffestiniog circular walks’, I have been considering a way of collaborating or in fact, collating a collection of walks around Blaenau Ffestiniog that are not my own.
This idea expands my previous concept of Dispersed Collections (mentioned in Blog 1) and includes both walking and collection as a working process.
On the 21st of the month I have organized a studio visit for a group of interested participants - 6 in total and will discuss this idea with them.
I have only been able to do 3 shorter walks this month with my studio as starting point – all in the direction of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Walk 7 –A walk that crosses many streams
Walk 8-A walk to greet the Atlantic Low.
Walk 9 –Walk through a changed landscape.
All have been documented in small books and in the journal.
Studio Visit – April 20th 2015
The visit went very well and generated a lively dialogue and engagement with the project.
The groups were all interested in the creative process but not all within the visual arts, one participant was a writer who works with the land and uses walking as a creative process.
We discussed the concepts, techniques, historical and theoretical research connected to Richard Long, Land Art and my chosen work. They were able to view the journal, small books and the documented installations .I would have chosen to install at least one of the Circle Series for them to view but there wasn’t enough space.
The suggestion that we collaborate and create a ‘Collection of Walks’ was well received, working within the premise of the location, each participant to document a circular walk of their own choice within the mapped area ,with the possible aim of collating them with a small published book .
We plan to meet again on June 19th to share the experience and documentation of these walks and experiences.
Post 2 – March 2015
Looking at Long’s’ Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle’ there is a predominance of triangle forms which I also noticed on my walks through the quarries, occurring both as waste and naturally (in their crystalline structure).
For the past year I have been working on a flotilla of small boats as a connection to the land on which I live and the studio in which I work. I am thrown back into this as I walk and collect slate waste for my first circle .All of the slate quarried in these mines was taken down the mountain and sent all over the world by ships/boats from the nearby harbour of Porthmadog.
Keeping to Long’s process of the ‘found object’, I collected( on walk3) slate pieces of all sizes and brought them back to my studio. I also incidentally found two lengths of rusty cable buried on the slate tip which found their way into my rucksack.
Returning to the studio to work with the slate pieces in an intuitive way.
I explored the open form of a circle on the studio floor to the scale of approx 2 mtrs .
Relating a small piece to a larger piece seemed to work well but I didn’t want them to represent boats literally.
I had also on the last walk, noticed the amount of lead mines that are combined within the slate quarries and researched the mining of lead and its history within this area with thoughts about bringing it in somehow to this project.
I have worked with lead in the past but not cast from it, so working on a small scale in the garden I experimented with pouring lead from a tin into the most basic of cuttlefish moulds formed as small boats. The resulting lead boats were combined with the installed slate boats to complete Circle 1.
I am limited by the space I have in studio and house to photograph an installed piece so these images are done as a quick record not an ideal photograph of the work.
As I was in material mode I decided to explore the potential of the collected rusty iron cable and found that it fell to pieces in my hands (with a bit of twisting). I was able to separate the single strands and they reminded me of the brown/red grass growing on the bog lands. I had collected a sample on my last walk and decided to tie the iron strands together in a similar way.
The other material I want to explore at this stage, which is strongly connected to the land walked is peat. Firstly I had to collect some, which is not easy.
Walk 4 - 16/3/15—A circular walk to the peat bog of Rhosydd from Tanygrisiau , on to Cwmorthin and back to Tanygrisiau.
This ‘Peat Book’ was just the beginning of a response to peat which I will return to in my next blog post.
It was a good week weather and time wise so I decided to take the opportunity to get out and walk. I found myself rereading parts of books about walking such as ‘Wanderlust’ by Rebecca Solnit and in particular her response to Richard Long’s work .She writes:-
“Long’s art is austere ,almost silent ,and entirely new in its emphasis on the walk itself as having shape, and this is less a cultural legacy than a creative assessment……
The simple gesture of walking can tie the walker to the surface of the earth, can measure the route as the route measures the walker, can draw on a grand scale almost without leaving a trace…….”
Page 272. The Shape of the Walk –Rebecca Solnit’ Wanderlust’.
“They will discover out of the ordinary things the meaning of ordinariness. They will not try to make them extraordinary but will only state their real meaning. But out of this they will devise the extraordinary”.
Having used text in most of my small books I decided to explore the way it relates to the shape of the walk and looked at the work of Hamish Fulton, who in his early years often walked with Long.
Walk 5 –Cylch Cwt y Bugail. 17/3/15
Decided to make a simple book with single words both Welsh and English within a circular form and learnt a lot about the patterns that emerge from repeating a word, quite a revelation but interesting nonetheless. I might consider increasing the scale and using a single image. I wanted to keep the process open and intuitive but the tightness of this small scale began to feel rather precious and I became aware of the inconsistency of my writing.
There was however an intimacy about this small scale that I took further using the images I took of colored lichen along the walk.
As a small aside from this I decided on 20/03/15 to do
Morning walk to the eclipse over Blaenau Ffestiniog
Night walk to the super moon over Blaenau Ffestiniog.
A bilingual exploration of text and form, which was fun.
Working Process Begins
My decision has been made. There are so many ideas behind the Richard Long’s work- ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle ‘that excite me and which I am curious to take further.
Here are a number of reasons why I chose this work:-
1. It is a sculpture that addresses not only Material and Form but also Place.
2. It reflects Long’s physical and mental engagement with the landscape.
3. An essential part of the working process takes place outside, on the land.
4. The physicality of the work.
5. The context of the Place, which is geographically close to where I live and work.
6. The working process is intuitive and of the present moment. The work is simple in the sense of not taking long to make.
7. The Minimal concept of the Circle - an archetypal form, formally, culturally and historically.
8. Am drawn to the title as a concept –Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle.
9. The material of the piece –Slate.
10. Made of ‘found ‘collected objects.
11. Wales as a source of inspiration for artists.
12. The work made me ‘feel’ before I ‘thought’.
I began by researching Richard Long’s work further in a number of relevant books .I found the book- Richard Long –Walking in Circles –Anthony d’Offay Gallery one of the most interesting.
Plate 2 – Richard Long- research book
I decided to approach my work along two paths.
One, by exploring the physical area of Blaenau Ffestiniog,in particular the quarry land between the town and the place where I live. The OS map below covers the area.
Plate 3 – Map of Blaenau Ffestiniog (c) Contains OS data © Crown copyright
I also began to research the slate quarry industry of the town and found this old map and Key to Slate quarries useful in the book ‘Slate-from Blaenau Ffestiniog’ by J.G.Isherwood.
Plate 4 –Slate Quarry Map.
Following the concept of Richard Long I aim to walk in the landscape as near as possible to the radius of a circle as drawn on a map. The site itself becomes the process. The defined circles will be linked to the slate quarries and the town, exploring the title of the work.
I am not sure of the number of walks as yet; this will clarify as the work progresses. Each walk will be intuitive and follow the structure, as much as possible, of the circle chosen. I aim to document each walk in a small book which I will take with me.
Walk 1-Jan 26th 2015 –Quarry Circle
Plate 5/6 Walk 1-Small book details.
These walks will be reflected on both in journal and blog as they progress. I feel at this point that I just need to get out there and walk. The book contain an essence of the walk.
Walk 2 -Jan 31 Circle to Cwt y Bugail Quarry
This walk had to be aborted due to blizzard conditions. When my footsteps disappeared behind me in the snow ,I knew it was time to turn back. I will attempt again in better conditions.
Walk 3-Studio to Blaenau Ffestiniog Circle.
I aim to continue with these walks throughout the next few months and will post the results of the process as I go along.
Alongside this walking process I will now focus on the material of Richard Long’s work –Slate. This will be my other intended ‘path’ influenced by his work.