Instead of making sculpture from traditional materials and with traditional techniques, Long began to make sculpture with his own body simply by walking, and recording these walks in the form of photographs. Since then he has travelled the world making walks in remote areas including the Sahara, the Andes, the Himalayas and the Scottish Highlands.
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Half of Richard Long’s life can be seen from this spot. He points to the bank on the far side where the photo that advertised his first exhibition was taken: a boy on a bicycle with the bridge in the distance. Farther downstream are the places where he still collects driftwood. He gestures in a private sort of way over and beyond Clifton to where he was born. As a boy, he played on the Downs, along the towpaths and in the limestone caves of the gorge. Immediately to our right is the old lock bridge which he would cycle over to school. “Down one hill,” he says, “up another.”
Over the years these sculptures have explored transience, permanence, visibility and recognition. A sculpture may be moved, dispersed or carried. Stones can be used as markers of time or distance, or exist as parts of a huge, yet anonymous, sculpture. On a mountain walk a sculpture could be made above the clouds, perhaps in a remote region, bringing an imaginative freedom about how, or where, art can be made in the world.’