Richard Long was born in Bristol and has lived locally since 1945. The artist spent his early years living in Clifton, and as a child he sought out the Downs, Avon Gorge and countryside close by. He has talked about the physical connection with nature and freedom that he felt as a boy playing in in these grassy, rocky places – the towpath, scree gullies and the woods of the gorge, of making campfires and toboggan runs when it snowed.
When studying at St Martin’s College in London, Long returned often to Bristol to make work, and several of the artists’ key early works were made on The Downs including Snowball Track, 1964, and England, 1968. The roots of Long’s engagement with the landscape can be seen in his connection to these places. They have remained areas of particular significance and he continues to work with local materials, such as mud from the River Avon, in works which are now realised across the world.
The new work, Boyhood Line, 2015, is made from white limestone and centres on a footpath close to Ladies Mile – a ‘desire line’ which has been made over many months by the footprints of people walking across The Downs, instinctively following the same path and establishing an unplanned path through the grass.
Boyhood Line is part of a major exhibition by Richard Long at Arnolfini, that explores the artist’s enduring relationship with the landscape of Bristol and the South West – a starting point for so many of his iconic works. This exhibition will bring together recreations of previous important works and entirely new commissions, both in the gallery and on The Downs, where the artist spent much of his childhood.
Richard Long, Offsite Commission: Boyhood Line – until Sunday 15 November 2015, 00:00