Landscape forms a central pillar of the psyche of British history and its romantic tradition. Like all genres of great art, Landscape has changed and continues to evolve. Two fundamental practitioners of the Landscape tradition, Richard Long, and Boyle Family, seem diametrically opposed to each other and yet they make excellent bed fellows. Richard Long’s propensity for walking in the British landscape for the last 50 years has produced an important body of text work. And these haiku–like provoking reminiscences belie the romantic tradition from which they appear. Mark Boyle and Joan Hills’ extraordinary journey from 1960s happenings to representing Britain in the Venice biennale 1978 is an ongoing commitment to a conceptual realisation of the Landscape. Both artists invite us to use our imagination, to think about the sites and the places that they have drawn on and from. The aesthetic of each of these practices is uncompromising, determined, and significant, in the development of the British Landscape tradition.
The stoic tradition which Richard Long might appear to connect with is an austere, determined pantheon. In fact Richard Long’s work marches hand in hand with a more lyrical tradition and his musical heroes that have inspired him, ranging from Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan to present day musicians.
Similarly the Boyle Family comes from the happenings and sound and light immersive experiences that Mark Boyle and Joan Hills created for Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. So both music and poetry are a fundamental part of the background to the practices of these artists. Both classical traditions lead to landscape. Those more anarchic deterministic rule breaking beginnings have led to global wanderings that are underpinned by a focused individual pathfinding methodology which now has for more than 50 years added to the traditions of classical poetry and music. Music and poetry inform the highly-refined aesthetic vocabulary these great British artists have produced. In fact, to borrow from Simon Schama, these works suggest landscape and memory on both an individual but also an heroic scale.
Michael Hue-Williams and Albion Barn are grateful to Lisson Gallery and Vigo Gallery for their help and support in presenting this exhibition.
Sir Richard Long represented Great Britain at the 37th Venice Biennale in 1976.
Mark Boyle represented Great Britain at the 38th Venice Biennale in 1978.
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