The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Reviews > Fine Arts


Fine Arts

――From this Earth

Eriko Kogo
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences (School of Culture, Media and Society)

Hamish Fulton is a "Walking Artist". All his works start from "walking". The exhibition titled "FIVE WALKS" consists of works coming from his five walks.

Fulton started presenting works from a movement trying to overcome the traditional art framework of the late 1960s. By having art school contemporaries such as Richard Long, who challenged carving from nature (land art), and Gilbert & George, who made themselves into "living sculptures", you can feel the deep expression of that time. Fulton attempted to create art from "walking".

After walking in a specific place for a set time, he would express the journey in photographs and writing. In recent years, many of his works are expressed in typographics on whole walls. This exhibition has its roots there, and you can view works consisting of photographs and short texts.

The monochrome photographs with abundant gradation depict each walk on a single photograph. He can't select historical sites known by many people. Rather, he selects uninspiring objects that are just there such as scenery of roadside, and captures them as they are. The additional text is extremely simple, explaining the time and space he walked. For example, in 1971 he walked 165 miles from Winchester to Canterbury in 10 days, and in 1986 he walked from Nachi-Katsuura to Horyuji Temple in Nara in 16 days.

With that casual motif combined with a concrete text, a point of time and journey from our past has also captured the eye of Fulton, giving us a certain yet vague understanding. His journey has been condensed into that single photograph, but at the same time, that is just a single moment――nothing more than a trace of the moment he pushed the shutter.

Beaver footprints left in the sand, a wall of trees exposed to the rain, a stone covered in bird droppings, an old road hardened by many people walking on it, when you have another look, all of exhibits are of some kind of vestige Fulton has seen. Something created in nature or changing every moment, the gaze that seems to adore those subjects, while being part of Fulton's journey, yet possibly being a journey we may have followed ourselves afterwards, allows sweet recollections somewhere.

What makes this blissful time all the more difficult is the power of the exhibition that puts consideration into every corner. The works are hung extremely low depend on the size and motif. Accordingly, the beaver tracks appear right below your line of vision and the wall of trees comes right before your eyes. From the conventional idea of general exhibits where works are centered at eye level, you could say that they are too low. However, through that delicate positioning, it is possible for us to quietly draw near to the things Fulton walked alongside.

(Contemporary Eye I, "Hamish Fulton――Five Walks" Exhibition, March 1, 2012 - April 20, 2012, Keio University Art Space,http://www.art-c.keio.ac.jp/event/log/339.html)

Reference URL:

Hamish Fulton Website "Hamish Fulton - walking artist"

Eriko Kogo
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences (School of Culture, Media and Society)

Assistant Professor of Studies of Media, Body and Image at the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University. Majored in art history at Waseda University's School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I, and arts science (art history) at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University. Specializes in modern Japanese art history, visual culture theory and representation culture theory. Major publications include, "Tojo Shotaro―Russo-Japanese War Artist" (Modern Art Theory 17), "Empire of Light―Illumination in the Russo-Japanese War" (Waseda Review 43).