Ed Herring



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Not on display

Ed Herring 1945–2003
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Support: 171 × 245 mm
Purchased 2012


Tie-Up 1969 is a black and white photograph on board which documents an action which the British artist Ed Herring carried out in an Essex wood in 1969. It is one of a series of works executed in various locations throughout the county of Essex in which he took string and tied it around all the trees in a particular area.

Alongside works such as Tea-bag Piece 1969 (Tate T13815), Float 1969 (Tate T13816), Oiled Earth 1969 (Tate T13817) and Zinc-Plated Wood 1969 (Tate T13818), Tie-Up is an early work which typifies Herring’s ‘environmental statements’, which were shown in two exhibitions in 1969: one at Manchester College of Art Gallery, where Herring was teaching; and in Survey 69. New Space at Camden Arts Centre, London, which can from October–November that year. His work in the late 1960s used photography and documentation to record interventions into the landscape he made made in primarily unpopulated areas. Tie-Up took place in Essex, unlike Float and Oiled Earth, which were made near fellow artist Keith Arnatt’s home in Yorkshire, and Tea-bag Piece and Zinc-Plated Wood, which were made near Belmont in Lancashire. The emphasis on recording and documenting his findings during these interventions preoccupied his work for decades: measuring the quantities of oil absorbed by the earth via an array of implanted tubes in Oiled Earth, for example. Photography enabled Herring to develop new enquiries into duration: the duration of time it took for a strip of fabric to move around a pond and sink in Float. These subtle forms of intervention questioned consumption, creation and the cultural responsibilities involved in their making, and were deeply rooted in ecological and environmental concerns. Oiled Earth in particular was the artist’s response to discussions at the time of its making pouring oil into the San Andreas fault in California to reduce the impact of future earthquakes.

Herring studied at Manchester College of Art from 1963–6 and then at Central School of Art and Design from 1966–7. In the late 1960s Herring collaborated with Keith Arnatt, most notably as the photographer for Arnatt’s Self Burial (Television Interference Project) 1969 (Tate T01747).

Further reading
Idea Structures, exhibition catalogue, Camden Arts Centre, London 1970.
‘Ed Herring: An Interview with Alistair Mackintosh’, Art and Artists, August 1972, pp.36–41.

Helen Delaney
May 2012
Arthur Goodwin
December 2018

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