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Smith map on loan to Tate

William Smith's map

Visitors to the Geological Society hoping to see William Smith’s 1815 geological map of Britain will have to make do with a postcard from today, as the famous map travels to the Tate Britain to take part in an ambitious new exhibition.

Geonews Online, 13 March 2012

Artist and film-maker Patrick Keiller is one of Britain’s most critically acclaimed independent film-makers, known for his series of essay films which take viewers on an unpredictable journey across the English landscape, charting the progress of the fictional character Robinson. Taking in such sites as the Bank of England, Blackpool and the site of a meteorite fall in Oxfordshire in 1830, his work explores ways of assembling and displaying film in unfamiliar formats, creating what he describes as ‘moving image landscapes’.

His latest installation, created for the Tate Britain Commission 2012 and supported by Sotheby’s, is one of the results of a three year (2007-10) research project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Landscape and Environment Programme.

The project aims to investigate experience of place, and will combine still and moving images of places encountered on a journey through landscapes in southern England, beginning in Oxford. It will include a selection of historical and other works suggested by these places and events which took place at them, many of these in the period 1795 – 1830.

The journey, which concluded at the limestone quarry at Enslow Hill, encouraged the project team to consider the geology of both the region and Britain, and the changes in landscape visible on geological maps. As a major work from the period, and a link between many aspects of the exhibition and its subjects, the Society’s copy of the William Smith’s map will form a central component of the installation.

The exhibition is developed especially for the neoclassical Duveen galleries at the heart of the Tate Britain, and will be unveiled on 27 March. William Smith’s map will be returned to the Society at the end of October. Until then, visitors to the Society can still view George Greenough’s map, created shortly after Smith’s in 1819.