Landscape has always been a major inspiration for artists; every medium – from painting, sculpture and photography, to poetry and music – has been used in the attempt to portray it. However, the question remains: can the direct experience of the landscape ever be truly represented within the context of art?
In ‘A Walk Announced’, Zoë Anderson attempts to bypass the limitations of representation of landscape, particularly within a gallery context, by dispensing with the artifice of any kind of pictorial, auditory or verbal description, and to access the sublime nature of the experience through what Anderson calls ‘framed silence’.
At 6pm on Friday 4 April, Anderson will start walking from Thurso in the Scottish Highlands the 55 miles to the town of Helmsdale, Sutherland, where a 10 foot high bronze statue, Exiles, depicting a family forced from their home, commemorates the people who were cleared from the area during the 1803 eviction of tenants by the Marquess of Stafford, and who were forced to leave their homeland and begin new lives overseas.
As Anderson starts her walk Vane gallery will hold a launch for the event from 6-8pm. The audience will be invited to enter a space devoid of any visual or auditory content. The artist intends that the empty gallery space act as a psychological or emotional space in which the audience member reflects upon the actual experience of her ‘real time’ journey: an interior journey of their own.
During the following day, Saturday 5 April, the gallery will stand as a place of silent contemplation while the walk continues. As Anderson ends her journey that evening, the work will draw to a close.
The walk is a metaphor of a journey towards knowledge. Highways, roads, footpaths, even dirt tracks have always been more than trade routes for the movement of goods: they have been conduits for the dissemination of ideas. Whether through advancing armies, spiritual pilgrimages, or forced migrations, through the basic act of walking, whole cultures have spread and grown.
The walk from Thurso to Helmsdale is planned as the first part of an ongoing project. In 2015 Anderson intends walking the length of the Red River in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where many of the people of Helmsdale emigrated, and where an identical statue to the one in Helmsdale has been set up.
Zoë Anderson lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She studied MA Fine Art, Royal College of Art (2006), BA (Hons) Interactive Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University (2001-03) and is currently undertaking PhD at Sunderland University. Exhibitions include ‘A Walked and Recorded Journey’, mima, Middlesbrough and MadLab, Manchester, ‘A drawing retrospective’, Teesside University, Middlesbrough (2012), ‘Fresh’, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne (2011), ‘These Here United States’, Master Piper Gallery, London (2009), ‘Printmakers’, My Life in Art, London (2008).
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