Richard Long: Bideford to London

7 Jan 2015

On 5 July 2014 we, the Burton Art Gallery Youth Collective, were given the opportunity to travel to London.

Our first stop was at the Lisson Gallery, where many of us were able to view the work of environmental artist, Richard Long, for the very first time. The first piece we saw was Four Ways, a cross made from slate arranged in a seemingly random yet organised manner. As I had not previously been too familiar with work made from natural materials, the piece had a profound impact on me, immediately provoking thoughts and questions within my mind: What does this mean? What inspired the artist to create this piece? I loved the sharp and almost menacing shapes of the rock, likening them to a city of looming skyscrapers within my mind. We were then talked through the other artworks on display, which both inspired me and taught me new and interesting things about Richard Long and his methods and techniques.

We made our way to the Tate Modern, and were introduced to Anthony d'Offay, who took us on an inspiring and insightful tour of the ARTIST ROOMS and other works on show. Among these, the most memorable for me were Robert Mapplethorpe and Mark Rothko. With respect to Rothko's work, I began to understand the importance of the way in which art is presented in helping the viewer appreciate the pieces. The space in which the paintings were displayed had a certain powerful feel to it, something which one could not appreciate when viewing the art from behind a computer screen. We were also kindly given access to see the Henri Matisse 'Cut-Outs' exhibition, where I saw for myself artwork that I had become very familiar with through my time in school art lessons. This was a really nice experience.

Something which Anthony said at the end of our time at the Tate Modern resonated with me, and it still inspires me today. He talked about creativity being of intrinsic value to the development of humanity, suggesting that it was our generation’s responsibility to ensure that art continues to form a major part of our society. This was one of the big things which I personally took away from the day.

Overall, the day was really inspiring; not only did I get to see an array of exciting and vastly different artworks, many of which I had never heard of before, but I was also encouraged to develop an interest in the philosophical and spiritual qualities of art. The ideas that we took away from the day helped us in pursuing the success of our own projects within our youth group.