Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson are two leading world figures within the Land Art movement. The exhibition ‘England and Wales 1969’ at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton presents the work based on a short but significant moment within their working life together: a trip made to the UK in August and September 1969.
Prompted by Smithson’s inclusion in the seminal ICA exhibition ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt came to the UK and spent one month travelling together to various sites in England and Wales, from Chesil Beach, Dorset to Old Sarum, Wiltshire, Oxted chalk quarry in Surrey and Pembrokeshire, Wales. The exhibition provides an immersive overview of this journey, bringing together, for the first time, photographic and sculptural works produced by Holt and Smithson.
Robert Smithson is represented by exhibition prints of original Slideworks, most notably his Mirror Displacement series. Here, Smithson would photograph arrangements of seven or eight elongated rectangular mirrors in various locations, the exposed mirrors capturing in their reflections fragments of nature nearby, such as rocky quarry crevices, grassy mounds and empty stone beaches. A museum replica of his Non-Site sculpture Chalk Mirror Displacement has been made with chalk mined from the same Oxted quarry where Smithson gathered the chalk for this sculpture in 1969.
The exhibition focuses on Nancy Holt’s photography, including Trail Markers, a series of twenty inkjet prints from original Instamatic slide transparencies made on a visit to Dartmoor, depicting the orange circles painted on rocks or fence posts along walking routes. These are shown along with two other works from the trip, Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor and Old Sarum Ruins in Salisbury.
Also on show are a number of films which reveal the artists’ collaborative working practice. Some were made by both Smithson and Holt together, while others reveal how, many years later, Nancy Holt has overseen the final realisation of film projects she and Smithson began. In addition, a series of personal photographs of the artists will be exhibited, capturing informal moments along the course their journey.
A John Hansard Gallery exhibition supported by The Henry Moore Foundation and organised in association with the Estate of Robert Smithson/ James Cohan Gallery. With thanks to Southern Gravel Ltd.
Image 1: Robert Smithson, Wistman’s Wood, 1969. Photographed by Nancy Holt. ©Nancy Holt, VAGA, New York/DACS, London, 2013
Image 2: Nancy Holt at Pentre Ifan dolmen, Pembroke National Park, Wales, 1969. Photographed by Robert Smithson. ©Nancy Holt, VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2013
Image 3: Nancy Holt, Trail Markers (6), 1969. Series of 20 inkjet prints on archival rag paper. Courtesy the artist, VAGA, New York/DACS, London 2013.
Image 4: Robert Smithson, Mirror Displacement (Grassy Slope), England, 1969. ©Estate of Robert Smithson / licensed by DACS, London 2013. Image courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai.
Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson: England and Wales 1969. 10 May-17 August 2013. John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton