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The Origins of the Land was made for the ‘Land’ pavilion at the Festival of Britain, on London’s South Bank, in 1951. The display there compared the geological and social history of the land of Britain with its present value, created by its mineral wealth. The coal industry had been nationalised a few years earlier. Sutherland here focuses on the earliest point in this history. His composition seems like a cross-section through the land. At the top the surface of the earth is aflame, while underneath strange root-like forms suggest the promise of life. 

August 2004