The network brought together art historians, museum and gallery curators, artists and writers from a wide range of organisations concerned with the visual arts, enabling a exploration of themes and issues that could move across art practice, critical interpretation, historical enquiry and exhibition-making.
Six meetings were held over a two-year period, and involved the three main project partners; the University of Nottingham, Slade School of Fine Art and Tate, alongside other participants including the Henry Moore Institute, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, galleries in the private sector, independent critics and writers, and postgraduate students. Venues for the workshops were deliberately chosen as environments likely to stimulate creative thinking and in which discussion could be closely connected to the direct encounter with works of art. Participants were given a unique opportunity to extend their range of contacts, explore new avenues of thinking, and to gain direct access to works of art that would not be possible in any other context. Meetings successfully worked across generations, institutions and professional networks, establishing a basis for diverse potential future collaborations and the development of exhibition proposals.
The activities and discussions of the network underlined just how significant the land art project was in the late 1960s and 1970s, and confirmed its under-researched nature. The extent to which land art practices are once again of compelling interest to contemporary artists was also demonstrated, suggesting the potential of an approach in which artistic re-interpretation plays a part alongside art historical investigation.
Exhibition proposals were always intended to be one of the main outcomes of the network, and these plans have already begun to be realised. 'Earth-Moon-Earth' was held at the Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham between June and August 2009. The exhibition was supported by a programme of talks by artists and curators and satellite events in London at the Camden Arts Centre and the National Film Theatre, alongside an exhibition catalogue. The exhibition embodied several of the themes that had emerged through the activities of the network; dialogue between artists of different generations, the relationship of land and space to conceptual art, how romanticism and the sublime might still be addressed by contemporary art, the interplay between art history and recent practice, and experimentation with modes of display in which still and moving images are juxtaposed, and in which visual and sonic elements come together.
A proposal for an exhibition on a historical survey of land art and its affiliated practices in Britain has been submitted to the Hayward Gallery.
Exhibitions are advancing knowledge and understanding of land art outside of academia, and the network continues to provide a vital framework for the ongoing research of its main organisers and other participants.
Duration: October 2006-October 2008, (24 month)
Mr N Alfrey
Higher Education Institution:
Department of Art History, University of Nottingham
'Earth-Moon-Earth' exhibition catalogue (2009)
Hamilton Finlay, I. (2009). Framing the Outdoors: landscape and land art in Britain, 1973-1977'. Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. 29:1.
Sleeman, J. (2009). Land art and the moon landing. Journal of Visual Culture. 8(3): 299-328.