Simon English is today setting out on his epic journey down the length of England that will see him returning to 75 places he visited nearly forty years ago. His trip, which can be followed online at www.englandrevisited.net
, is being launched with the release of 500 red and white balloons into the skies over Cumbria this afternoon.
The renowned land artist is retracing the steps he took for his monumental 1971 artwork, All England Sculpture, during which he marked out the word 'ENGLAND' with St George's flags from Cumbria to Southampton. For England Revisited, Simon will return to those same 75 locations to witness, document and comment on the changes that have occurred in their landscapes, ecologies, communities and industries over the past four decades.
Unlike All England Sculpture, documented with pencil, paper, screenprint and analogue camera, England Revisited is very much a work for the digital age. As well as being visible online, viewers can sign up for e-bulletins to share Simon's progress via video diary over the course of his evolving journey.
People will be encouraged to engage further with England Revisited if they find some of the released balloons. Seventy-five of the 500 balloons are white, and will have messages attached, urging the finder to contact artevents with their discovery and story.
Back in 1971 as a young artist, Simon English hitched, trained and hiked around the country collecting local flora, photographically documenting each place, and meeting the locals.
He marked each spot visited with a St George's flag and a note inviting people to write to him - which many did.
This time, armed with the latest digital recording equipment he will revisit the landscapes, ecologies, communities and industries from his original journey. He will once again place a flag at each point, interact with local people and gather plant samples. Additionally, he will record his observations via a video diary. This fresh round of documentation will reveal the changes that have taken place in the intervening four decades. English's whereabouts on the journey will be tracked live using GPS mapping technology and an iPhone and will be available live online.
Taking around three months, the experience will exist online and his records will be digitized as a tape-slide exhibition available to download by arts and community centres all over the country.
Simon English (b. 1949) is a conceptual land artist with over 20 ambitious land art works to his credit. Apart from All England Sculpture, his Camomile Swan (1989) and Reversing the Zebra (1992) have received critical and popular acclaim. He lives in Stratford upon Avon, England.