Richard Long

A Sculpture in Bristol

1965, 1983

Richard Long born 1945
8 photographs, black and white, on paper and graphite on board
Frame, each: 276 x 276 x 10 mm
displayed: 276 x 2591 x 10mm
Purchased 1983

Not on display

Display caption

Made using plaster in the garden of a derelict house, Long has stated that this was his 'first work actually digging into the ground. I wanted to make the work both below ground level and in the ground'. The work anticipates Long's physical engagement with landscape, yet its modest scale is consistent with his non-invasive approach. Although taken in 1965, these photographs were first displayed in 1983.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T03808 A Sculpture in Bristol 1965/83

Seven black and white photographs mounted on board and one title panel hand-lettered in pencil on board, each panel 10 7/8 × 10 7/8 (276 × 276)
Inscribed ‘A SCULPTURE IN BRISTOL/1965’ on title panel and ‘R.Long’ on reverse of each board
Purchased from Anthony d'Offay Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Exh: Richard Long, Touch Stones: Words after the fact, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, March–May 1983 (not numbered); 1965–1972 When Attitudes Became Form, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, July–September 1984, Fruit Market, Edinburgh, October–November 1984 (not numbered)

In a letter to the compiler (22 April 1986), the artist commented:

Though not my first outdoor work (‘A Snowball Track’ 1964), ‘A Sculpture in Bristol’ was my first work actually digging into the ground. I wanted to make work both below ground level and in the ground. It was made in the garden of a derelict house at the time of doing various labouring jobs before I came to London.

The work consisted of a roughly circular hollow, a meandering channel or small trench, and two holes. The hollow and a part of the channel were lined with white plaster, the two holes were filled with plaster (one full, the other half full) and a section of the channel was just earth. The work was loosely based on rivers; sources, and inlets flowing into a lower riverbed (which can be seen in the River Avon. I had always been interested in the negative space and shape of the Avon at low tide). So the sculpture was made by digging, lining and pouring, and was a sort of fictional abstracted river system without water, or with the tide out.

The photos were taken casually, and only made into a photo-work, to my specifications, eighteen years later, for the occasion of my show at the Arnolfini in Bristol in 1983.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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