Richard Long: The Spike Island Tapes, Alan Cristea Gallery, London

Richard Long: The Spike Island Tapes,  Alan Cristea Gallery, London

For his first solo exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery, Turner Prize winner and Royal Academician Richard Long will exhibit a series of new, monumental carborundum relief prints. This is the first time that Long has worked in this medium, allowing him to create his largest prints and most colourful works to date: The Spike Island Tapes comprising 17 works created from twelve colossal 4 x 8 foot aluminium plates.

Over the past four decades Long has mostly worked with silkscreen and offset printing techniques, alongside etching and lithography. The artist was first approached by Alan Cristea in 2013 with the idea of making carborundum relief prints, as this would give him the opportunity to work directly with his hand on the plate, thus replicating the technique he uses when making his mud works.

These works bear strong resemblance to mud, or any wet works as Long props plates vertically against the wall, enabling him to work fast at their top and to generate cascading “out-takes” of his hand marks. Four panels of this kind will hang together in an immersive five metre wide print, while other pieces have been produced by masking out geometric shapes before Long then covered the plates with paste using his bare hands. Although some have been printed in mud-coloured ink, a number are coloured in vibrant reds and greens carefully selected by the artist.

The works come under the heading The Spike Island Tapes, a title which includes both an oblique reference to The Nashville Tapes, a selection of songs recorded by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and the name of a contemporary arts centre in Bristol near to Long’s home, Spike Island, where he conceived, developed and proofed the prints for the exhibition. For Long, working at Spike Island was comparable to a musician going into a recording studio for a few days, to lay down some new tracks. All of the prints in the exhibition are named after songs or music that Long “just likes”.

Richard Long: The Spike Island Tapes, 20 February – 2 April, Alan Cristea Gallery, 31 & 34 Cork Street, London W1.

1. Fingers on Fire, 2014, two panel carborundum relief, 248.5 x 238.5 cm, Edition of 7. Courtesy of the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London.