Richard Long

Cerne Abbas Walk


Not on display

Richard Long born 1945
Ink, typescript, photograph on map and photograph, gelatin silver prints on paper
Two items:
support (photograph): 320 × 495 mm
support (map): 687 × 697mm
Purchased 1976

Display caption

Long uses walking as an artistic medium. This work is the result of a six-day walk around an ancient figure cut into a chalky hillside in Dorset. The map shows his route, retracing and re-crossing many roads to stay within a predetermined circle. The photo on the map shows the ancient chalk ‘giant’ of Cerne Abbas. Long took part in several exhibitions organised around the world by the CAyC, beginning with the key exhibition Arte de Sistemas (‘Systems Art’) held in Buenos Aires in 1971.

Gallery label, January 2019

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Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
In two parts: Ink, printed text and photograph on Ordnance Survey map (scale 1in = 1 mile), 28 1/2 × 29 (72.5 × 73.6), and black and white photograph 14 1/8 × 21 1/8 (36 × 53.5)
Purchased from the artist through the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1976
Exh: Artists Over Land, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, August–September 1975 (no catalogue); Rosc, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, August–October 1977 (93, repr. p.207)
Repr: Michael Compton, Some notes on the work of Richard Long, XXXVII Venice Biennale 1976, p.17, detail

The text at the top of the map reads: ‘A SIX DAY WALK OVER ALL ROADS, LANES AND DOUBLE TRACKS INSIDE A SIX MILE WIDE CIRCLE CENTRED ON THE GIANT OF CERNE ABBAS’ and at the bottom ‘DORSET 1975’. Above the lower text is a black and white photograph of the Giant which was bought by Long at a local shop in Cerne Abbas. The Giant is an outline figure of a man holding a club (180 feet high) cut in the turf of a chalk hill, half a mile North from the village of Cerne Abbas. Nikolaus Pevsner dates the figure to circa AD 190. The photograph in the top frame was taken by Long at a vantage point along the walk. He photographed what he thought ‘showed the most typical and apt view of the landscape covered by the walk’. The photograph is a unique print.

The artist has made many wall-works using Ordnance Survey maps to indicate the path or direction of a walk he has taken, including ‘A Hundred Mile Walk’ 1971–2, T01720. Long indicated that the Cerne Abbas Giant was simply the focal point of a certain type of walk, that is, a walk within and over a complete place, as opposed to a linear or journeying walk from one ‘end’ to another. Because he did not step outside the circle many roads were naturally re-traced and re-crossed during the walk. He had made another similar walk in 1975, within an imaginary square, in the lanes of North Devon. The term ‘DOUBLE TRACKS’ in the text means a cart track rather than a footpath or bridleway (some of which, though marked on the map, have disappeared). Long walked along all the cart tracks he found, whether marked on the map or not.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979

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