The Idea Home Show - Group Exhibition: Reclaim the Wilderness (2017)

Emily Hesse (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


'When fortifications become A STATE OF MIND, we no longer dwell inside the landscape of our fortress, but transcend it’s walls to become the very structure itself. The thinking mind is no longer encapsulated within the unthinking body, it permeates wall, border, boundary. Its new found fluidity is passed like virus from one to other. It is the shadow at dusk and the murmur at dawn – finite light. And yet not born of the landscape, but the landscape ITSELF.

The human fortifications of North Eastern England are of course, to the seeing eye, little different to anywhere else in this land. The rows of gridlocked terraces built rapidly by the industrial revolutionaries, only a few miles apart from the soft stone houses of the moorland. Each is passed by daily without notation of those residing here.Their forms so archetypal, we have become almost blind to their very existence. Within their walls we exist as Kings and Queens. We take ownership of foundations, insure content, and yet so often disregard our ancestral occupation of AUTOCHTHONOUS material.'

Reclaim the Wilderness (2017) created
a political sloganeering campaign against
Margaret Thatcher’s declaration of our land
as a ‘wilderness’ (wilderness defined: an
unoccupied site where no human previously
existed or was able to survive) during the
1980’s. The location she labelled was the
former site of the heavy industrial firm Head
Wrightson, where many generations of our
families had laboured for over a hundred
years. My work included campaign posters,
painted in clay, and seventy-eight hand-made
unfired bricks in River Tees clay that formed
what appeared to be a pathway or road. It
was impossible to lay the bricks out in a way
that the work did not resemble Carl Andre’s
Equivalent VIII (1966)
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMiddlesbrough
PublisherMiddlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2018


  • Art
  • clay
  • politics of identity
  • Land


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