Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild


Montana's vast and wild open space inspired us to think big. 

Coming to Lincoln - a place on the Blackfoot, in Lewis and Clark County, close to the continental divide - led us into a multitude of meandering lines of interest and enquiry. 
Maps and pathfinding interest us both, and a navigable route or line through part of Sculpture in the Wild continuously cropped up in our discussions, as did the search for the East-West passage, and the frontier-crossing that exploration entailed. 

Whilst exploring Lincoln and its surroundings, we became more and more interested in the buildings constructed from the trees growing all around us, especially the crudely built miners' cabins; it became clear their simple construction - born out of the place and economic circumstance - would form the technique, material, and medium for the artwork. 
As we walked and talked across the park, the lack of topography and the strikingly vertical trees, made it impossible to envisage us making a standing artwork. The trees’ immensity compelled us to work horizontally, in and with the earth, in and with the trees.
As our summer research trip came to an end our avenues of enquiry began to converge at a destination and a location; a place appeared. In the North-West of the park, with a view to the mountains, we imagined and drew a path through the forest floor.
We returned in the Autumn to make the work. This began with cutting and loading the lodgepole with Rick Dunkerly high on Stemple; then choosing and setting logs, learning the process of making the joints, meeting brilliant people - all whilst submerged in the forest for three intense weeks. It was an unforgettable experience.

The result is a work that presents an alternative view and experience of that place - both in the earth and in the mind (body). We built a sculpture that had to be experienced, navigated; a sculpture that spoke the local visual language and used the built corners we so admired, a sculpture born out of its place where continents divide, lines zig-zag, and new routes of passage become possible.

Sam Clayton and Mark Jacobs have been working collaboratively since 2004.
Their work together always begins with a location - a place in which they begin their investigations into the environmental, historical, mythical and social layers of that site.
Immersing themselves in new environments through maps, walking and archive research, they use their collaboration as the testing ground for ideas based on what they find, their dialogue with each other manifesting as an installation - built together, in and about that place
When not making their own work Clayton and Jacobs run their company - Brute Force and Ignorance, working with artists and institutions to install complex installations all over the world.

​​​East West Passage (2015)

Mark Jacobs and Sam Clayton UK)

Materials: Lodge Pole Pine, Cobblestone