Richard Long: Heaven and Earth, room guide: room 3

Richard Long Dusty Boots Line Sahara 1988 a straight line marked out in the barren pebbly land

Richard Long
Dusty Boots Line Sahara 1988

Private collection © Richard Long

I like the idea of making something from nothing.

In the mid-Sixties I began to think that the language and ambition of art was too formal and orthodox. I felt it had barely engaged with the natural landscapes which cover our planet, or used the experiences those places could offer. Starting from my home territory and gradually spreading further afield, my work has tried to explore this potential. I see it as abstract art laid down in the real spaces of the world. It is not romantic; I use the world as I find it.

To make art only by walking, or leaving ephemeral traces here and there, is my freedom. I can make art in a very simple way but on a huge scale in terms of miles and space. My work can range from making a circle of stones, for example, to just placing a stone at every mile, or carrying a stone from one place to another, or simply making a work only by walking, with no intervention or displacement at all.

My work is completely physical and personal. I’ve walked or climbed to the place of each sculpture. I’ve made it with my hands (or feet) and energy at that time. To walk across a country from coast to coast, for example, is both a measure of the land itself – its size, shape and terrain – and also of myself, how long it takes me and not somebody else.