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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past

On Overgrown Paths

Ben Rivers

02nd Jul - 05th Sep 2010

Three ramshackle wooden cabins, assembled by the artist from discarded wood and salvaged building materials, invite the visitor to explore. Inside, flickering 16mm films reveal the lives of modern-day hermits who live in isolated spots in Northern Europe.

Origin of the Species (2008) portrays an elderly amateur inventor and Darwin enthusiast living alone in the Scottish highlands, who devises his own technologies for day-to-day subsistence whilst pondering the workings of the universe and the scope of human knowledge. His monologue ranges from animal trapping to Big Bang theory. This is My Land (2006) observes the daily routine of self-sufficient Jake Williams, living in Aberdeenshire; whilst Sørdal (2008) focuses on an abandoned film-set found while searching for a hermit in Norway.

The subjects of the films offer a collective resistance to today’s consumer driven lifestyles. Rivers was inspired by Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), from whose work the exhibition title comes. Rivers says that ‘many of his books focussed on individuals choosing to live out in the wilderness – often people who had had a taste of urban society and yearned for something more solitary’.

All three films are made using an old Bolex camera, which has a very particular quality that cannot be digitally constructed. Projected in the environment of the cabins, they offer a unique audio, visual and tactile experience.

Ben Rivers (born Somerset, 1972), lives and works in London. Rivers’ previous solo exhibitions in the UK include: A World Rattled of Habit at A Foundation, Liverpool, 2009; Origin of the Species, Kate MacGarry, London, 2009; On Overgrown Paths, Permanent Gallery, Brighton and The Regency Town House, Hove, 2008. In 2008 his work was screened as part of Nought to Sixty, at the ICA, London, and at the 52nd BFI London Film Festival. Rivers won the Tiger Award at the 2008 International Film Festival Rotterdam and is recipient of the London Artist Film and Video Award (LAFVA). Origin of the Species was funded by Arts Council England, with the support of Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network. Ben Rivers is represented by Kate MacGarry. 

On Overgrown Paths
is a Measure touring exhibition taking place in Bradford, the world's first UNESCO City of Film.

Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 160kb)
Click here
to download a large print information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 164kb)

What the papers say

Dig Yorkshire
The Big Issue (pdf 1.4mb)

Origin of the Species

Origin of the Species

Ben Rivers

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Origin of the Species This is My Land Sordal Installation at Impressions


The shacks are beautiful and really emphasied the idea of being alone in the wilderness. The films were stunningly shot as well as interesting. This really made my day. Thanks !

Exhibitions Visitor

Really intriguing. Love the snapshot of unusual life choices and the ’sheds’ just worked so well with the films inside. Congrat’s on a wonderful show.

Exhibitions Visitor

As the sound track of ’Origin of the Species’ died way, I became aware of how it had filled my attention. As the light and noise stopped and the noise from the rest of the gallery came into my awareness, I felt quite lost and sad. The other two films felt more difficult to get into, interesting idea.

Exhibitions Visitor

What a great space in the middle of Bradford, and everyone so welcoming. Inside a feeling of calm and reflection.

Exhibitions Visitor

As viewers we are spoilt with visual imagery- Still, moving, beautifully ’ Kodachrome’ coloured, black and white-sounds of voices, the sound of the landscape, childhood memory, sounds of the 16mm cine projector, being ’enclosed’ in wonderful sheds with stained glass detail, turfed ’ Norwegian’ roof, even smells of sheds and hessian sacking cloth. So Much !
Stunning !

Exhibitions Visitor

I loved it.
Coming back tomorrow !

Jalad aged 5

’This is my Land’ was our favorite. It was nice to contemplate a self sufficient lifestyle !
Also loved the concept of the sheds.

Exhibitions Visitor

I’ve made repeated visits to this exhibition because it’s so good to step out of the chaos and clamor of the city centre and contemplate a completely different way of living. I don’t think that I could bear the isolation chose by the star of ’Origin of the Species’ and ’This is my Land’ but I love ’Sordal.’ I find it very calming to sit in the semi-darkness looking at such beautiful scenery- it’s like a kind of meditation. I think this exhibition has been good for my mental health, so thank you !

Exhibitions Visitor