Boyle Family: Contemporary Archaeology

16 January - 14 March 2015

Boyle Family have beguiled viewers with their contemporary explorations of the world around us ever since Mark Boyle and Joan Hills, and later their children, Sebastian and Georgia, started collaborating in the 1960s, seeking to present the environment as truthfully and objectively as possible.

They are best known for their astonishing earth studies: facsimiles of the ground taken from randomly chosen points in the world that resemble slices of the landscape fixed to the gallery walls. Their approach has been likened to that of NASA space research, voyaging to far-flung places to probe, obtain data and extract samples from the surface of the planet; a form of contemporary archaeology that excavates the present rather than the past. This ‘earthprobe’ project was launched as Journey to the Surface of the Earth at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1969 and has led to numerous World Series assignments all across the globe - from New Zealand to Japan or the Australian outback to north of the Arctic circle - with the sites having been determined by blindfolded participants throwing darts at a large map of the world.

This exhibition, conceived in close collaboration with the artists, could be seen as a follow-up to their comprehensive retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2003 and will present The World Series Lazio Site, the most recent of their on-going World Series projects, in its entirety. The Lazio series dates from 2013 and comprises earth studies, electron microphotographs and video that provide a compelling and arresting visual record of the surface of the land, the plant life, insect life and the presence of the artists themselves. Accompanying this work will be earth studies from the previous decade, including the first public showing of their Coral Quarry Triptych from 2001-2 and a mesmerising time-lapse film of their most recent Seeds for a Random Garden project.


Arts Council EnglandSouth Lakeland District CouncilSir John Fisher FoundationKendal Town Council

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  • Boyle Family, Study of Rusting Wire Cable etc. and Spent Welding Rods, 2001-2


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