Activity: Make a Natural Sculpture Inspired by Richard Long 

  • Grades: All Ages
  • Subjects: Art Activities

Richard Long is known as a land artist, someone who makes art using the landscape or natural materials. He collected the rocks that form this sculpture while walking near the village of Elterwater in England. When they are arranged in this circle, with each stone pointing upward, they form a new landscape that didn’t exist before.

A grouping of sharp, dark stones form a ring in the middle of the museum floor.
Richard Long Elterwater Stone Ring, 1985, Carnegie Museum of Art

Discuss with These Questions:

  • Imagine walking around Long’s sculpture. What do you notice?
  • Compare the shapes that you see in the stones. What is similar or different about them?
  • What variations do you notice in the colors of each stone?
  • Which stones seem smooth to you and which seem to have a rough texture?

Get Creative: Collect Materials to Make Your Own Sculpture 

To create your own sculpture, you’ll need to find a safe place to walk outside—maybe very close to where you live, but at a safe distance away from other people. Take a walk outside to collect natural materials such as stones, pebbles, leaves, acorns or other seeds, pine needles, pinecones, sticks, or pieces of bark that have fallen off of trees. (Bring something like a bag or a small box to hold the items you collect.) What will you make to remember your experience of nature?

  1. Start your walk by noticing the natural materials you see along the way.
  2. When selecting materials to bring home, make sure they are natural materials. Do not pick up anything that was left behind by other people.
  3. Follow Richard Long’s example and be careful not to damage any part of nature.
  4. You do not need to have an idea in mind when you begin your experience. Use your senses to look, hear, feel, and smell what’s around you. Your ideas will develop as you go!

If you can’t make your land art while you are on your walk, take your collection back home and find a place where you can spread it out. Richard Long typically makes his sculptures directly on the ground or the floor.

  1. Take a good look at your collection: what are the textures of the things you have gathered? Are they rough or smooth? Is there variety in their colors and shapes?
  2. Begin arranging and rearranging your materials. Do you like placing similar things together, like Long’s ring of stones or will you combine different materials and shapes?
  3. Richard Long’s sculptures often form circles or lines. Will your sculpture be a geometric shape or something more organic?
  4. When you are happy with your sculpture, you may want to take a picture of it or write about it. This is a way to document what you’ve created while also creating another work of art!
  5. What title will you give your work of art?