Isolation and Landscape

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etching, aquatint, work on paper, print, silhouette, contrast, figure, shadow, ambiguous, minimalist, loneliness, isolated, walking figure,

In Wandering, Laing's  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  is alone. So alone, in fact, that there is nothing around him/her anywhere. There is only whiteness, a blank empty that stands in stark  contrastA large difference between two things. It is a technique often used to create a focal point.  to the figure; the one is perfectly white and the other perfectly black.

start quoteYou can't be sloppy with printmaking or photography. Those disciplines require that you pay attention to the
details.end quote -- William Laing

The only clue that the figure is anywhere at all is that the figure's  shadowDark value of a colour made by adding black.  is being cast onto something behind. But aside from this shadow, there is no indication that the figure is anywhere. This could be like the experience of being alone in a crowd - your body is present and so your shadow is cast, but from your perspective, there is nothing else. Even if there are many people around you, it is still possible to feel alone. Because Laing's figure cannot literally be in "no place," we can assume that the figure is in a place it cannot identify with or understand.

The title, Wandering, indicates that Laing is making work about having no fixed place. Most people are able to identify with this in one way or another; perhaps they have no fixed home because they move frequently, or their home is in some way unstable; they could feel as though they are a part of more than one culture, and so they have no fixed home in that way.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • What sorts of things could happen to you that could make you feel alone? What kinds of things can you imagine happening to others that would make them feel alone?
  • How is making art like being alone? How is it different? Can making art prevent loneliness?
Studio Activity
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A poem alone

  • Write a poem or a song based on a time when you felt alone.  It could be based on a time when you actually were alone, or a time when you were with many people but felt lost.

  • Try to describe what it was like to feel this way, and how you tried to fix the situation.

    • Was it by reconnecting with people?

    • Did you have to become more comfortable with yourself, the people around you, or your environment?

Paint a picture of a place you've never been

Try to imagine a place you have never been to.

  • Paint a picture of yourself in this place, imagining what you would do there and what you would see.
  • Pay attention to how you draw yourself, too.
  • Are you comfortable in this place, or uncomfortable?
  • How does it affect your mood?

Author unknown.  William Laing, RCA.  Artist writeup.  Herrigner Kiss Gallery.  Retrieved from the Internet March 5, 2009 from:

Author unknown.  ‘William Laing: A Journey.’  News release.  Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1998.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning