Paper, Stones and Water

A series of 59 photo/landworks.
medium: 53 azo dye (cibachrome) photographic colour prints and 6 black and white photographic works completed between 1979-1985.

There is a long tradition of landscape art. The landscape which is important to me, though, is not scenery or far-distant views, but rather what happens on the scale where even a stone or single wave can make a difference. That is enough for me.

One becomes more alert to the order and meaning in the landscape. I like to underline this, when I find it, through simple acts and elements. Stone becomes rounded by the action of weather and waves. It takes information from water, but very slowly. Paper is quicker. Paper has a beautiful fragility which stone does not have. It is vulnerable and sensitive to any information which is acted on it: the waves, the rain, the wind, the forms underneath. The very deep past found in stone becomes concealed by a very fragile present.

The works are attached to the moment of their making. It is a privileged moment involving a natural dimension of time. Some things may last a long time, and others may only last between one wave and the next. The only thing certain is change.

The great Stone Circles and Standing Stones of antiquity are very powerful. One hears legends and theories. But you do not solve the mystery, you enter it. Out there on the moors, my intent was to activate the sites in some way — to make contact across the millennia. With the paper I was able to make a simple gesture which left no permanent mark yet had a great impact on the landscape.

Still, several feet of white paper are not the art work. The hill, the stones, the grass, the wind, the rain, the tide are all a part. So the art work is not all finished — there are many parts still there. For me the paper acts as the crossroad for the gap between the real and the possible. What happens in the real world changes my original idea. This is what I like, the dynamic moment when I discover that the wind or rain is not an obstacle but an important event.

The actions of nature may seem random, or unpredictable; the way smooth stones sit naturally at the shore appears to have no organization. I have found, though, that if I manipulate any of them, the interference is obvious. The kind of order I impose is unlikely to occur naturally. But the imposition is slight. The next high tide will disturb my arrangement and re-organize the elements again. Nature is never finished.

Marlene Creates, 1981

A bilingual publication on this work is available:
Marlene Creates: Landworks 1979-1991