The Land Art of Richard Shilling

Richard Shilling is one of the better-known land artists in Britain. He creates sculptures from natural materials from around the site of where each sculpture is made. The works are intended to be gradually absorbed back into the landscape by the elements.

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Temple Stack

Every completed work is photographed in natural light before it is subjected to the sometimes-hostile environment. In this way, the sculptures can be enjoyed as they go through a gradual transition over time. Some may have only a very short “life” such as creations using pebbles on a beach but this is the transitory nature of Land Art. Richard takes his inspiration from this continued relationship with nature through the various seasons and expresses his ideas through his land art images.

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Beach stones stacked into a cairn at Cockersands, Lancashire

Richard’s interest in land art began when he came across a stone sculpture in the nearby hills by Andy Goldsworthy. He was intrigued by the notion of artwork being placed seemingly at random in the middle of a wild moor and set out to find out more about it. He read Goldsworthy’s book ‘A Collaboration with Nature’ and immediately became hooked. He began by attempting to copy some of Goldsworthy’s creations purely as a learning process in the use of the natural materials and quickly became aware of what a huge subject this could be.

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Stacked millstone grit cairn at Birk Bank, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

He started researching the qualities and structures of different trees so that he could acquire sufficient knowledge of the colours and textures that he could work with. He had always been very interested in nature and the discovery of land art gave him the perfect opportunity to express himself through his work. He is completely self-taught but acknowledged the massive part played in his development by Goldsworthy.

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Frost Star Circle – Gritstone splinters arranged in a star on frosted slabs

He has attempted to move away from Goldsworthy in recent years in order to create his own style and has published books on the subject of land art. He publishes his work regularly on the Internet and runs a blog for the benefit of those interested in this increasingly popular art form. He is always keen to promote land art and provide links to other artists in this genre. He also runs Land Art for Kinds, a site that encourages youngsters to take up the art form. It is well worth a visit for people of any age who might fancy a go at creating something original in the landscape.

His advice for those with a genuine interest is simply to go out and try it. There are no hard and fast rules and he finds it extremely rewarding on a personal level. He does not see it as a commercial venture because his inspiration is to just to live among the splendour of nature as much as he can.

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