home exhibitions | interviewsfeatures profileswebprojects archive



Wistman’s Wood 1969 – Site of buried poem #1 (for Robert Smithson)

Nancy Holt: 'We went to Dartmoor National Park, where I made several works, including the series of photographs Trail Markers. ………….. At one point we reached Wistman’s Wood, an ancient woodland of stunted oaks. I believe the name Wistman originated from the dialect “Wisht”, meaning eerie, haunted or enchanted. (By the way, ‘Holt’ in old English means ‘a wood’.) I remember that the ground was strewn with large rocks covered with many different types of mosses and lichens, out of which arose these strange twisted trees. We were stunned by this place. I did my first Buried Poem #1 (for Robert Smithson) piece there. A site evokes a person, and I bury a poem for that person and later the person a booklet including maps, detailed directions and a list of equipment (such as a compass and shovel) in order to find it. To me, Wistman’s Wood conjured up Bob’s persona in a striking way…’