Image: courtesy of the artist and Kate MacGarry

Renowned artist Ben Rivers presents Urthworks at Hestercombe Gallery, from 9 November 2019 to 9 February 2020. Curated by Josephine Lanyon for Somerset Art WorksSomerset Film and Hestercombe Gallery.

Urthworks is the culmination of a long term collaboration between Ben Rivers and science fiction writer Mark von Schlegell. At the heart of the show is a trilogy of films that explore our planet’s geological evolution and the deep history of our cultural traditions.

Urth, in Norse mythology is the goddess of fate, a giantess who personified the past. Earthworks is a novel by Brian Aldiss that imagines a future after devastating ecological breakdown. Ben Rivers makes films that explore ‘other worldliness’ in the actual world around us. Places are severed from the conventions of time past, present or future, where the line between real and imagined becomes uncertain.

In Slow Action (2010), Rivers’ study of the biogeographical environments of Japan, Tuvalu, Lanzarote and Somerset is combined with Schlegell’s writings of future island utopian societies. Urth (2016), is set in an extraordinary artificial research environment in Arizona, where Rivers’ images of the futuristic glass building are populated by the spoken log book of the last living woman on earth.

The work A Sunless Paradise will be premiered at Hestercombe. It was shot by Rivers in the vast, dark passages under the Mendips and is combined with computer generated environments and song; with words written by Mark Von Schlegell and music composed by Christina Vantzou.

Alongside displays of the artist’s photographs and objects we will bring together materials from Wells & Mendip Museum’s Balch collection in order to further explore our relationship with the rocky outcrops and watery caverns of the locale.

Supported by:

  • Somerset Art Works
  • Somerset Film
  • Arts Council
  • Wookey Hole
  • Hestercombe Gardens
  • Heritage Lottery
  • Prior Park College
  • Wells & Mendip Museum
  • South West Heritage Trust

More information and associated event, please see

Photo credits: courtesy of the artist and Kate MacGarry

Published on October 10, 2019 // Zoe Li