For 30 years, Hamish Fulton has been making art about one subject only: walking. Typically, he presents walking in nature as a kind of counterpoint to urban existence and its conformities. Not that he ever depicts his walks directly. Rather, both the old and new works in this exhibition are like mementos. At their best, they have the aura of a relic – not religious, but somehow equally magical and mysterious.
Each piece includes some kind of text detailing the date and location of the walk, and sometimes also more poetic or oblique statements. Many works, especially those from the 1970s, in fact consist of nothing but text, which appears like a kind of poetry in prints and wall pieces. But elsewhere he incorporates images – maps of coast-to-coast hikes across Europe, or a photograph of a milestone from a Holyhead to Dover trek. Sometimes objects such as the various rulers and other measuring devices which he writes on are presented, arranged jaggedly on the wall to evoke mountain ranges or steps.
Curiously, there’s often an inverse correlation between how illustrative a work is and its effectiveness. His least successful piece in this show is a video depicting a mass procession in Margate. Hundreds of participants file around a square of beach yet it doesn’t make for a particularly captivating spectacle. By contrast, his text-only pieces allow viewers’ minds the freedom to wander, to embark upon journeys of imagination and speculation as a sort of mental parallel to Fulton’s actual walks.