Approaching Landscape

If we view an artefact in a museum or gallery or catalogue, it is often placed so as to be isolated from any complexity of detail or colour in its surroundings, allowing us to see the unique and individual qualities that it possesses. But, as Bradley comments, 'At times this approach breaks up any composition that might be evident... and divorces the data from all connection with the landscape' (Bradley 1997, 8). Many sculptural artefacts were constructed in close proximity to, or even immersed within, a visually rich environment. The colour, texture, form, or scale of the object might harmonise or clash with its situation but these contrasts were surely designed to contribute to the appreciation and understanding of both the landscape and the artefact.

The artist Andy Goldsworthy works constantly to develop this understanding. For him some aspects of the landscape have 'taken on the significance that all mountains, hills, mounds and single trees have to people living nearby... a landmark which creates a sense of presence and location, defining the surrounding landscape... I often made holes in rocks, ice, snow which usually opened out into and examined that space. The mountains were bait for the eye'. (1990, 73)

'A rock is not independent of its surroundings... The energy and space around a rock are as important as the energy and space within... When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it.' (1985, 4 )

Similarly, many archaeological artefacts can only be appreciated in relation to their original setting or relative to each other. Christopher Tilley (1994), Richard Bradley (1997), and others have shown the importance of examining the whole corpus of artefacts and monuments in a region and their interrelationship with each other and the topography, rather than regarding each category in isolation.


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Last updated: Mon Sep 25 2000