Published by Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at University of Greenwich, London

Richard Long; measuring the environment through space, time and physicality

 Richard Long creates environmental art by having physical engagement with the landscape, without it being of a particularly intrusive nature. Long’s work appears in several different forms from mud paintings within a gallery space to marking in the landscape. There is a psycho-geographic connotation to his work as he records spontaneous interactions with the landscape through planned explorations and journeys.

A Line Made by Walking 1967 by Richard Long born 1945


Richard Long, A line made by walking, 1967

His most memorable works are shaped from taking long, personal walks in which he documents his personal exchanges with the environments he encounters. These documentations take on several different forms: environmental sculptures, photography etc. and become layered in presentation.

I find one of the most exciting elements of his work is his ability to record sequences and movement and it’s temporary/permanent consequences on the landscape. Temporary in form but the elements involved will always exist somewhere.

 “I can move things from place to place. I can manipulate the world by leaving stone on the road. And they don’t disappear because the stone is still in the world – but completely anonymously.” [1]

 There are a couple of things that I’m interested in about this statement, first being Long’s application of anonymity. It isn’t important that the public recognises the journeys themselves that Long has manipulated into the environment, but that these events exist within the boundaries of time, and through the permanent context of photography, maps, writings.

 Untitled 1967 by Richard Long born 1945

Richard Long, Untitled (Ben Nevis Hitch-hike), 1967

The temporality of Long’s work is also a contribution to the ephemeral nature of his environmental art, with a more permanent outcome being the documentation of experience. He doesn’t apply limits or extents on his journeys.

 “My footsteps make the mark. My legs carry me across the country. It’s like a way of measuring the world. I love that connection to my own body. It’s me to the world.” [1]

 It is an intriguing idea to understand the world through the physicality of your own being; your own form understanding the way the land lies. Understanding the land through experience.

 “The significance of walking in my work is that it brings time and space into my art; space meaning distance. A work of art can be a journey.” [1]


[1] Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, Richard Long: ‘It was the swinging 60s. To be walking lines in fields was a bit different’, 2012,

Images sourced from and 


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