Review of Walk On Plymouth Launch Evening

Walk On Launch Evening
Peninsula Arts Gallery, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, and the Plymouth College of Art Gallery
3 October 2014

Review by Nathaniel Bannister

The act of travelling on foot has proved fertile soil for artists. Richard Long has had an international reputation for making art from epic walks in rural Britain and beyond since the late 1960s. Marina Abramovic and lover Ulay walked from either end of the Great Wall of China in 1988. When they met in the centre, they ended their relationship but created a work of art.

‘Walk On: 40 years of Art Walking’, an exciting new exhibition across the Peninsula Arts Gallery, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, and the Plymouth College of Art Gallery, takes as its subject artistic journeys on foot and the paraphernalia that documents these journey.

Personal highlights include: Rachael Clewlow’s minute-by-minute documentation of her journeys, translated in to bold, colourful and abstract graphs – walking as statistical; the Tibetan flag that Hamish Fulton carried to the Himalayan peaks – walking as political; and ‘An Exeter Mis-guide’, an irreverent, witty guide to walking in Exeter produced by Wrights & Sites – walking as urban regeneration.

However, the most arresting piece is Sophie Calle’s fantastic ‘Venice Bienalle’, the mysterious photo diary of an increasingly erratic woman. She appears to be a spurned lover, following an elusive man and his lover around Venice. But taking a few steps back from the series reveals a footnote on the gallery wall high above: this is a random man that the artist has followed from Paris to Venice – walking as personal (and invasive).

The scope of the works on display across the galleries is varied so no visitor should be disappointed, and the act of walking between the galleries is in itself a clever piece of choreography, forcing patrons to contemplate their walking in the context of what they have just viewed. ‘Walk On: 40 years of Art Walking’ is a vibrant and challenging exhibition; a real cultural success for Plymouth.

Visit www.walkonplymouth.org for more information on the exhibition at related events.

Nathaniel Bannister is a freelance writer living and working in Plymouth. Get in touch at bannister.nathaniel@gmail.com.

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