Today I’ll introduce you to the work of one of my favorite artists.
Andy Goldsworthy is a British artist currently living in Scotland who works with nature to create some very unique works of art.
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I find his art beautiful in its simplicity and in its striking use of form, color, and line. Goldsworthy makes his art from naturally found items like rocks, twigs, branches, leaves, flowers and petals, icicles, water, and sand.
His work is temporary, an extension of nature formed once by his hands and from then on subject to time and the elements, One of his rock sculptures may last for years, even decades, but his other work often fades away much more quickly.
His ice sculptures for instance usually melt within hours of completion. Because of that ephemeral quality in his work he captures each creation in a photograph, making some of the most beautiful and captivating nature photos I’ve ever seen.
As you can see, I’ve included some images which will give you an idea of what his art is like. From searching the internet I don’t think he has a website, or I’d list that too.
Much of what I learned about Goldsworthy came from watching a documentary called Rivers and Tides directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer.
The documentary was incredibly well done, and followed the artist for an entire year as he traveled to remote locations to work. It was fascinating to see him in the process of creating, and I immediately felt the same calm purpose I saw in his art echoed in his personality as well.
Goldsworthy is a soft-spoken but persistent individual, with an intuitive understanding of his medium. He mentioned briefly his long relationship with nature, extending back to his time at Bradford College of Art, where his days were markedly different from the other students. Instead of working in a studio or workshop, he would spend his days making art out in the surrounding countryside that often would never been seen.
The documentary shows him spending countless hours before dawn forming and shaping icicles into a spiral pattern rising from a jutting rock in a desolate location. As he finished, the morning sun rose above the horizon, setting the ice sculpture awash in golden light. Goldsworthy seemed almost overcome by the transformation that came from the blending of his own efforts and the natural occurrence of the sunrise.
I was also impressed with his patient acceptance of his own struggle against nature. At one point, while racing to complete a rock sculpture on a remote beach before the tide came in, his efforts seemed destined to fail. Pieces of rock continually broke under their own weight or shifted suddenly in the sand, and he was forced again and again to start over. But Goldsworthy’s reactions just showed disappointment at his inability to completely “understand” and “feel” the stone he was working with.
In time, he did succeed in forming a standing oval of rock, which remained upright even while the rising tide surrounded it. Goldsworthy stayed and watched while the tide rose higher and higher, until finally the water completely covered his work.
When the tide went out again, the sculpture still stood, rising solidly from the retreating water and proving that at least for the moment his art remained.
If you’d like to see more of Goldsworthy’s art, the easiest way would be to look through some of his books. There are quite a few available, and each one is full of hundreds of photos of his artwork. You can find all of them here.