Andy Goldsworthy 1 Andy Goldsworthy Aura Beck The Pennsylvania State University Andy Goldsworthy 2 “Andy Goldsworthy” “Art for me is a form of nourishment. I need the land,” according to Andy Goldsworthy (2001). This quote drives what I feel is the true inner passion of the environmental artist. Goldsworthy explains that he feels that the same energy is within him and the land. Creation is his way of understanding it. Much of his work deals with trying to make sense of changes in time, as many environmental artists’ work explores. A major theme in much of his work is the river. He strives to understand the meeting of the river and the sea. The swirling, serpentine form of the river appears in many of his works. Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956 and raised in Yorkshire from childhood. He studied at the Bradford College of Art from 1974-1975 and then attended Preston Polytechnic as a fine arts student. (Collins 2001, p. 8). It was throughout his years as a student at Preston Polytechnic that Goldsworthy began experimenting the way he worked as an artist. Goldsworthy explains in one of his documentary films entitled “Rivers and Tides” that one day when he was riding the train home from school he ventured out onto the beach and first began expressing with nature as a medium. Several artists had already began working with land and nature as a form of artistic expression nearly a decade before Goldsworthy, sharing his interest in portraying space and time, as well as the ephemeral qualities of nature (Collins 2001, p. 9). Often working alone with time fighting against him, Goldsworthy chooses to use materials generally found on the site. He has conducted his work in many diverse places ranging from Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Grize Fiord in the Northern Territories of Canada, the North Pole, Japan, Australia, St. Louis, Missouri, and Dumfriesshire. Andy Goldsworthy 3 Materials seen in his work contain a variety of different properties and characteristics that require a deep understanding when creating, such as twigs, leaves, stones, snow, ice, reeds, and thorns (Cass Sculpture Foundation 2007). Much of his work is ephemeral and diminishes after a time, sometimes right before Goldsworthy’s eyes. “The thing that brings the work to life is the thing that will cause its death” (Goldsworthy 2001). This is one of the things that first attracted me to Goldsworthy’s art. The temporary quality of art making is something that I struggle with greatly. I can’t imagine creating something for hours and putting all of my time and energy, heart and soul into the piece and then watch it be destroyed by nature. However, to Goldsworthy, this is not destructing. When watching one of his stone cones, that took him four or more tries to master, disappear into the sea he says, “The sea has taken it and making more of it than I ever could have” (Goldsworthy 2001). His patience is astounding. These ephemeral works are recorded as photographs. Photographs have become Goldsworthy’s dialog in many ways in regards to his work. Some of his sculpture has a more permanent nature, many created in stone and placed in different areas far from its origin, such as his work “Herd of Arches” and the “Storm King Wall”. Another permanent sculpture that many have seen in the United States is his work “Roof” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The “Storm King Wall” illustrates the winding, serpentine form that Goldsworthy uses to make connections to the river. He speaks of the river as the stone of the wall verses the river of growth of the vegetation surrounding it (Goldsworthy 2001). “Roof” resembles a common dome-like form that Andy Goldsworthy 4 we see in much of Goldsworthy’s work. These shapes include cones, circles, domes, rectangles, and many other geometric shapes that he creates in nature. Goldsworthy prefers to work alone, except when larger projects require more hands. His work can be scene in a variety of places, from private wooded areas to the public streets of London. Goldsworthy feels that the presence of the public can affect a work just as much as the unpredictable weather patterns in nature, relating the unexpected arrival of people to that of a rainfall or snow, which essentially he has no control (Collins 2001, p.9). “Taught control can be the death of work.” Goldsworthy explains (2001). In 1976, while he was still attending art school, Goldsworthy considers is when his career truly began and in 1977 he created his first snow sculpture. There is an uncontrollable nature to snow. He often meditated in regards to the snowfall stating, “Snow is stone, it is like white stone. Snow is sand, ice is like slate” (Collins 2001, p.8). He considers snow and ice to be perhaps the most ephemeral material that he has worked with. Goldsworthy is known for working with what materials are at hand (Collins 2001, p.8) and this is exactly what I chose to do for this project. I am very interesting in Goldsworthy’s “portraits” that he creates by laying on the ground and letting the rain fall on him, then standing and leaving the outline of his body on the ground. I chose to do this in the snow. It was a very interesting way of creating a self-portrait that I never before considered. I next chose to reconstruct the very familiar cone structure of Goldsworthy out of snow. This was very difficult to do. The snow was too fresh and the powder wasn’t very effective for molding. Parts of the cone would often collapse as I was forming the opposing side. I was cold and the cone took a great deal of time. My hands became numb and after awhile I could not feel them sculpting the Andy Goldsworthy 5 snow. The cone ending up being about as tall as myself and I am very pleased with the result. “You feel as if you’ve touched the heart of the place” (Goldsworthy 2001). I felt this way as I left my works behind and headed for the warm indoors. I gained a new appreciation for this form of art-making through this assignment and have always loved and been inspired by Goldsworthy’s creations. His work pushes me to consider working outside of my comfort zones and experiment with different techniques. Andy Goldsworthy 6 References Andy Goldsworthy. February 25, 2007, from http://www.healthandhealting.org/complement/art_history.asp Goldsworthy, A. (2001). Midsummer Snowballs. New York: Harry N. Abrams, INC. Publishers. Riedelsheimer, T. (2001). Andy Goldsworthy’s Rivers and Tides [DVD]. New Video Group.