06 Mar –
17 Apr 2021
Galerie Thomas Schulte under the title INSIGNIFICANT INSECT ? presents the first solo exhibition at the gallery by walking artist Hamish Fulton. Since first setting out in 1969, he has covered thousands of miles with his walks in various countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia. During his walks, the artist takes but a few photographs and handwrites some notes. Back at home, he draws from his memories to craft minimal, graphically austere drawings, small wooden objects as well as large murals with text that provides basic factual information about a walk—when and where it took place and, for example, what the moon or the weather was like.
The gallery’s main exhibition space features seven of Fulton’s large colorful wall texts. An additional mural—the artist’s most recent work—is installed in the gallery’s nine meter high Corner Space and visible through the windows from afar. Separate from the main part of the exhibition, the gallery’s Window Space is used by the artist for a display of selected photographs, prints, works on paper and works on wood. The comprehensive exhibition makes reference to altogether 55 of the artist’s walks between 1992 and 2020.
Hamish Fulton, born 1946 in London, is a British walking artist. In the past his walks have had him travel extensively to countries including England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Norway, Lapland, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, The United States, Mexico, Canada, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Nepal, India, Australia, Japan and Tibet. Fulton’s work has been shown extensively around the world. Important solo exhibitions include Ikon Gallery (2012), Turner Contemporary (2012), Mu- seion (2005), Tate Britain (2002), and Museu Serralves (2001). Major group exhibitions include documenta (1977; 1982), Schaulager (2015), MOCA, Los Angeles (2012), Royal Academy of Arts (2011) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000).
8 paint and vinyl wall texts, 2 framed photo text works, 4 framed limited edition prints, 6 framed works on paper and 8 walk texts on wood.
Not all of the exhibited works are mentioned below.
I date all my art works –
according to the dates of the particular walks.
Each walk is unique.
Every artwork contains a dated walk text, written on completion of the individual walk. There Are No Words In Nature…
in-spite of everything, it is with words
that I am able to record my walks and point to nature.
It’s what it’s about, not what it looks like.
Each walking experience has several stories buried within it.
But, the stories are often quite detailed and unable to be explored in the brief walk descriptions. In any event, I prefer that there is something ‘inside’, rather than not much of anything at all.
Title: CHO OYU. TIBET 2000. Wall text 9.15 m x 3.92 m x 1.5 mm. 1.5 mm, refers to the combined thickness of wall paint and vinyl. 1.5 mm, is not a dimension to ignore,
it is the extent to which the artwork intrudes into the gallery space.
In 2000 I had the concept to pay and join a commercial expedition to climb Cho Oyu in Tibet. I have ascended twice to above the 8000 metre mark, up into what is termed ‘the death zone’, and only made achievable for me with the help and aid of Sherpas.
Alpine Style climbers accurately describe ascents by non-mountaineers like myself, as :
‘high altitude trekking’.
As an artist,I traversed across from the contemporary art world,
to the mountain world above 8000 metres.
Tibet and Tibetans –
is a place and race of people that the Chinese government would like the world to ignore. As I write this, Tenzin Tsundue the Tibetan activist is walking 500 kilometres
( 12 February – 10 March ) from McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala to Delhi,
to draw attention to the ongoing plight of Tibet and Tibetans.
Which I in turn, relate to my small, framed limited edition print.
Title: CHINESE ECONOMY TIBETAN BURNING. INDIA 2013.
This print concerns walking 154 circuits of the Linkhor in McLeod Ganj during November 2013. And, points to the self-immolation of Tibetans, whose numbers by the end of 2019,
had reached 154.
‘The opinion that art should not be political is itself a political opinion.’( George Orwell.)
Title: TURKIC UIGHUR. EAST TURKESTAN 2006.
Framed abstract drawing and walk text –
is an example of art that relies on an awareness
of current news reports on the lives of Uighur people living in Xinjiang, China.
( I deliberately ended my 21 day walk in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana with the full moon of September 1997.
Again by chance, I also did not speak to anyone for fourteen days.
I did not own a mobile phone.
So far, I have completed 12 twenty one day walks. Only 9 more to go ! )
Title: INSIGNIFICANT INSECT. ENGLAND 1998.Wall text.
A symmetrical vinyl insect shape measuring approximately 3 metres in height. Actual insect height : 2cm, and not made of artificial material.
Living insects are not fabricated in factories.
Insects are a significant part of the ecosystem.
Vinyl wall art
containing a walk text referencing a seven day walk that deliberately ended on the summer solstice,
the 21st day of June 1998.
(All eight of the wall texts intentionally accommodate the existing gallery architecture, but they could also be re-proportioned to fill much larger, but not smaller walls.)
Title: THIS IS NOT LAND ART. ALASKA USA 2004. Wall text. 5.29 m x 3.92 m x 1.5 mm.
As with Cho Oyu four years earlier, I paid and joined a commercial expedition to ascend to the top of the highest mountain in North America. (The title of this wall text, is a clear example of what might be described as my ‘obsession’ with rejecting any association with Land Art.)
A Mountain Is Not Made Of Stone It Is Stone.
In 2004, I was not aware that any US contemporary artist
had ascended to the summit of Denali.
Alpine Style climbers consider the normal West Buttress Route…a joke ! But, as an artist and not a mountaineer,
I did find functioning in those colder temperatures a challenge.
To point to this area of consideration, I have commented that :
‘An artist may be influenced by a mountaineer,
but a mountaineer has no reason to be influenced by an artist.’
Does the word mountaineer always imply a male practitioner ?
The Spanish climber, Araceli Segarra has said that mountains do not recognise gender. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner,
climbed all fourteen 8000 metre peaks
without supplemental oxygen or high altitude porters.
Just 13 words to describe such a major undertaking.
Although commercial expeditions on Denali are unable to: ‘Leave No Trace’, I was drawn to the idea of contrasting Land Art with walking art.
Mountains in the news. 16 January 2021.
The Coronavirus did not stop
ten male Nepalese mountaineers from becoming the first humans ever to arrive in winter at the 8611 metre summit of K2 in Pakistan.
‘…mountains are extremely fair, and they don’t differentiate whether you are a man or a woman, rich or poor. In addition I feel a great sense of freedom up in the mountains, quite different from how society imposes so many rules, especially on women’.
( Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita 2016. )
Earlier last year I made the following text
resulting from an experience that could be described as the opposite of a K2 climb, the ‘local and domestic’ in contrast to the literally ‘epic’.
Make a walk, write a text, read it to an audience.
The Quietest Day 3 April 2020.
During a reduction of human activity.
Counting 49 barefoot paces
walking in every direction on grass
each day for 49 days
within the time frame of the Covid 19 quarantine. South East England Spring 2020.
Title: 35 WALKS MAP. ( EUROPE ) 1971 – 2019. Framed, limited edition print. A map of
the existing land areas of Western Europe bordered by water
and criss crossed with the route lines of my dated walks.
Unlike A Drawn Line A Walked Line Can Never Be Erased.
The crossing and joining of my previous footsteps…invisible footsteps.
No human national boundaries are indicated,
only land surrounded by sea water.
We can walk on the land, but have to stop ( or start ) when we reach the sea.
All 35 walks were experienced in a pre Covid-19, pre Brexit world.
Rising sea levels will alter the indentations of coastlines. In time, maps will need to be adjusted. The walks were performed mostly on roads,
which is a comment on our car-dependent society,
irrespective of whether the vehicles are powered by fossil fuel or batteries.
From one form of extraction to another.
Lithium is a seven letter word.
Title: 7 SMALL MOUNTAINS WYOMING USA 2017. Walk text on wood.
Two small pieces of wood,
one with 7 geometric mountain shapes,
the other containing the walk text.
Arapaho, a seven letter tribal name.
Inspiration for the geometric shapes comes from Indigenous beadwork.
The materialisation of this walk text on wood, is intended to draw attention to material restraint. Small Art Big Experience.
Make a walk, write a text, read it to an audience.
A twenty one day walk twenty one nights camping. No talking for fourteen days.
Ascending to the tops of seven small mountains.
A full moon on the seventh night.
Wind River Range Wyoming USA late summer 2017.
I carried everything that I needed for this twenty one day camping walk. ( No resupply.) I did not talk to anyone at all for fourteen of the twenty one days. ( No phone reception.) I walked to the tops of seven small mountains. (Average height about 12,000 feet.)
On the seventh night there was a full moon.