Over the decades, Richard Long’s work has created a language of simple geometric forms, marked on the surface of the earth with stones, water, dust or snow. The relationship with place is vital to Long’s work and his 1977 Kaldor project in Australia was the first of several visits and projects connected to the Australian landscape. For Project 7, he created two major museum works and a series of photographs taken during walks outside Broken Hill. Long’s work
from this project was recently shown in his retrospective exhibition at the Tate Modern in London.
John Kaldor first asked Long to create a project in Australia in the early 1970s. In 1976, the year in which Long represented Britain in the 37th Venice Biennale, he finally agreed to make new works in Sydney and Melbourne the following year. He also proposed making a work outside the gallery spaces. A straight hundred mile walk in Australia
was part of a body of works exploring the same principle in different regions. The destination for the walk was unplanned and uncharted, the location chosen intuitively by the artist. Long spent eight days and nights in the dusty bushland outside Broken Hill. Using a compass, he walked out and back each day in a straight line, returning each night to the same campsite, for a total of 160 kilometres (100 miles). Somewhere outside of Broken Hill, Long paused to create a rough line of red stones, a work he titled A line in Australia
Long then visited Melbourne as part of the project and created Bushwood circle
at the National Gallery of Victoria. The work, nine metres in diameter, was constructed over the course of a day on the pavement of the Gallery’s Murdoch Court from gum and tea tree branches that had been collected by the artist. Long does not prefabricate or alter the natural fragments and detritus that he chooses for his museum works, just as he does not cut into the land when making works in the natural environment. The considered process of placement and arrangement transforms the raw materials into artworks. In Sydney, nine tonnes of blue metal stone was brought to the Art Gallery of New South Wales from a Parramatta quarry to create the 20-metre-long Stone line
. With the help of art students, Long arranged the heavy blue-black stones to form a monumental vista along the gallery floor.
This text is an edited excerpt from the publication 40 Years: Kaldor Public Art Projects