The exhibition and events aim to examine our collective response to landscape and place, how we react to exterior spaces and the impact of our changing environment. Through engagement with various art media, practises and approaches, we wish to encourage discussion and observation between artists and community. Contributing artists review encounters with our various environments, examining the polar notions of ‘attachment’ and ‘unattachment’.
The project was initiated as a result of the pandemic and the inevitable lock downs that followed. As we found our movements restricted and any collective walking projects untenable, we instead decided to initiate walks that were made together, but alone.
Artist’s fascination with the landscape as a subject can be traced to the Neolithic period. Early Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures developed the genre further and much later, northern Europeans began to identify it as a specific subject rather than an adornment or background. Our view of ‘scapes’ is often influenced by a culturally specific interpretation of what will make an appropriate image. Artists have been and continue to be influenced by the classical landscape paintings of 17thC painter Claude Lorrain and later John Constable, often hold a romantic view of the idealised landscape. This hope of discovering the perfect or ideal landscape often dismisses the ordinary; the everyday. It overlooks places and subjects that are considered to be mundane, familiar or just not beautiful enough. Many contemporary artists have now freed themselves from the constraints and limitations of these earlier, often representational practices. They look instead to other ways of responding to outside spaces, recognising that previously disregarded subjects can provide alternative ways of engagement, interest and stimulation.
Work made by over 20 walking artists is represented in the exhibition. It was the result of walks synchronised to take place at the same time, over several continents. Artists responded to a ‘time/distance walking script’ – adhering to various ‘prompts’ that governed their progress and choices, forcing them to let go of the desire to find the definitive subject to explore unattachment and to leave that choice to chance.
The Unattached Landscape
In the first part of the project (‘unattachment’) artists were prompted to avoid searching out those subjects that are ‘interesting’ or that fall into William Gilpin’s definitions of ‘Beautiful, Sublime or Picturesque’; to let go of the desire to find the definitive subject and to leave that choice to chance. It revolved around a walk that was made by over 20 international walking artists and was synchronised to take place over several continents. It was governed by a ‘time/distance script’ to choreograph the artist’s activity. Artists were asked to respond to this series of chosen stopping points and moderate their gaze and choice of subject by adhering to various ‘prompt’ words. Along with their words and images, artists include a variety of maps some of which hand drawn. Some have also included 3 seemingly unconnected (and sometimes slightly surreal) words generated by geolocation software (#What3Words) and which can be used to locate the exact places artists stopped.
You can download our Landlinks project brief for artists here •
The Attached Landscape
Countering the serendipitous approach of the initial enquiry, the second examined the ‘attached’ landscape. These are places that can be become special to us and we form an ‘attachment’ for them, idealising them and their features…perhaps even keeping their location secret for our own enjoyment and that of our close circle, free from the distraction of others. We may feel emotional about them, returning to them again and again. As they give, we receive and become their faithful lover.
These emotions may have been triggered when the viewer is drawn to a particular place, perhaps one that has specific features, for example a particular hillside; a ‘special’ view of the sea, land or townscape; or one which holds a nostalgic sentiment, specific histories, (either their own or those close to us). They may have even represented ‘home’, safety or comfort.
This part of the project didn’t involve any collective activity, the was no walk and certainly no prompts. It was left to the artists to decide on their own subject material. Here we see the artist’s responses when encountering a place or environment that generated for them a special emotional outcome.
Curated by Kel Portman & Lizzi Walton
The words and images of some contributing artists are now available with more to be added shortly.