Richard Long’s site-specific wall work continues a series of temporary murals in paint, clay and mud that date back to other previous large-scale examples, such as Red Earth Circle, made for the ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1989. Long manipulates the viscosity of this earthy, primal and colourful material against a backdrop or surface. Leaving behind gestural indexes of his explorative strokes, Long explores the interaction of multiple, conflicting natural and man-made forces.
He has made numerous other works referencing the colour red, including Red Walk (1986), which features a body of typographic text that documents a walk Long took from his home to Cornwall, picking out punctuations of red from a ‘Gypsies’ Fire’ to a ‘Cock Pheasant’s Face’. Another work from the same year, Red Slate Line, which was on long-term view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as well as the Guggenheim Museum’s earlier piece, Red Slate Circle (1980), were both made from a deep-red slate found at the border of Vermont and New York State. Long often employs mud from the River Avon, sourced from what he calls his ‘home’ river, which runs through Bristol, although he has, on occasion, also employed terracotta slip or a rich red clay from the region of Vallauris, the French capital of pottery and ceramic arts. He refers to the tactility and material simplicity of tidal and river mud, as well as its geological significance, having been created by the movement of water over millions of years. He sees it as: “a mixture of time, water and stone”.