Yesterday I spent the day in Salisbury with a good friend. Aside from the excellent company, food and copious cups of organic tea the purpose of my visit was to see an exhibition of art at the Salisbury Art Centre called “WALKING… LANDSCAPE… MEMORY”. I had no idea what expect, but was pleasantly surprised with what I discovered there, and even more pleased to find two of the four artists and photographers were there to talk about their work, their inspiration and their personal relationship with landscape.
The works on display all seemed to share a commonality of purpose in attempting to portray their own personal relationships with the landscape and yet at the same time show how individual that relationship has to be; influenced by our own relationship with the land, the energy of the place and the power of connection each piece of art revealed much more than a simple photograph. They made me think deeply about my own relationship with the landscape where I live, and the landscape I spend so many hours exploring.
I loved the mixing of metaphor and expression of ‘reality’, of how some places can make us feel uneasy; and I loved how science, art and so called earth energies (which I firmly believe have a huge influence on how we interpret and ‘feel’ about a place) can co-exist in harmony.
It was a profound pleasure to find some of the photographs by Fay Godwin on display. I only discovered her pioneering landscape photography a few years ago after my own experiences of coming to know better places familiar to me from many years walking the Ridgeway and contemplating my own place in that ancient timeless landscape, – connected by the white chalk pilgrim pathway that follows the escarpments of what is now known as the North Wessex Downs. Her work, and in particular her photography of the Ridgeway in 1975, inspired me to attempt to create something that captures my own deep connection with the places she shared in wonderfully evocative black and white. Seeing her work ‘in the flesh’ inspired me to finally seek a copy of her book ‘The Oldest Road’, and to dig my very neglected DSLR out and begin some photography that isn’t restricted to snapping away on my iPhone camera!
During the open discussions Rob Irving said that at some point we stop simply looking at the landscape and become part of it – and, for me, that’s the crux of walking in the landscape: when we can no longer separate ourself from a place then we are truly part of the land, we deepen our relationship and begin to, perhaps, scratch the surface of the consciousness and memory that, I feel certain, exists within the land on which we walk. That is where we can finally begin to know our own place in nature and finally recognise where we belong – not as outside of nature and landscape but utterly connected to it and part of it.
If you get chance, I’d highly recommend taking an hour two to visit the exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre – on until 30th January.
Richard Long – http://www.richardlong.org/
Rob Irving – http://www.robirving.co.uk/
Lydia Halcrow – http://www.lydiahalcrow.com/index.htm
Fay Godwin – http://www.faygodwin.com/bio.html