Brittish SCULPTOR, PHOTOGRAPHER AND ENVIRONMENTALIST
Born: July 26, 1956 --- Cheshire, England
This month’s featured artist, Andy Goldsworthy, Brittish sculptor, photographer, environmentalist, seems like a perfect choice for his personal quest is to be intimate and create with Nature. What flows through him, flows through the landscape and his goal is to feel, experience, understand, and then to create with this energy.
“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us.
So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
These very words convey the essence of his explorations-----the life cycle of various materials and ecologies, and the transient stages of birth, maturity, and dis-integration. And as he states,
"I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and "found" tools--a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn. "
In his collaborations with nature, Andy works with whatever comes to hand: twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds and thorns, creating site specific installations, exploring the very essences of these materials. In his process, he first must become attuned to his environment mentally, physically, and emotionally. He listens, he observes, and then when he seems to be drawn to the way the materials express themselves he creates. He takes these very materials and reweaves them back into the environment in a deliberate manner then lets the effects of the natural conditions have their way with them. For example, near a stream, he sews together leaves with pine needles and allows the current to carry them as if it were a new inhabitant making its way in the flow. Another example he creates a structure from sandstone or shale at the seas edge then observes how the tide interacts with it, carries it away, melts it, or simply flows over it. In this manner, he is exploring change, transformation, mutability, permeability, the unknown and impermanence.
"Looking, touching, materials, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. The energy and space around a material are as important as the energy and space within. The weather--rain, sun, snow, hail, mist, calm--is that external space made visible. When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it. It is not independent of its surroundings, and the way it sits tells how it came to be there."
“Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature.”
As an audience we feel the sense of birth, life and death with great anticipation and curiosity and a sense of triumph. Andy will photograph his process and this is mainly the only means he has to show that he actually created and collaborated with nature. There are exceptions such as rock walls he constructs but even they will not stay as he created them. So, the photographing of his installations tell the story, a small drama as it were. And he is always uncertain of the exact metamorphoses of his pieces. On film he captures the infancy stages of creating them, the majestic full bloom of the mature piece, and then the decline and demise that comes with time. It is particularly interesting to see videos and photographs of his actual constructing of his pieces and like every artist not every attempt is successful. We as the audience gets to see his humanness in his successes as well as his failures. His videos and photographs are often the only record that he was even in the environment so they become a necessary vehicle for him to share his art with the world and an art form in and of themselves. As an audience through his photographs we can be stunned by the beauty of the landscape and the art’s relation to it; we can see the dazzle as the full sun as it shines through it, or feel the soft glow of the different illuminations at different times of day, and how the elements have their magical effects without standing in the cold, rain, waking up a dawn, or climbing to precarious places.
Here Andy Goldsworthy sums up his experience beautifully:
“Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature.”
Born in Cheshire, England in 1956, Andy owes his love towards nature to his family, who introduced him to agriculture at a very tender age. Since then, he had the idea of creating sculptures using already existing elements of nature. He is a meticulous sculptor producing site-specific land art situation in natural and uban settings.
Bradford College of Art (1974–1975); Preston Polytechnic (now University of Central Lancashire) (1975–1978)
Scottish Arts Council Award (1987); honorary degree from the University of Bradford (1993
Andy Goldsworthy was given the title Officer of the British Empire, OBE, in 2000
Besides England and Scotland, his work has been created at the North Pole, in Japan, the Australian Outback, in the U.S. and many others
He currently lives in Scotland.
Touching North 1989
Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature 1990
Andy Goldsworthy, Sheepfolds 1996
Midsummer Snowballs 2001
Andy Goldsworthy: Ephemeral Works: 2004-20142015
River and Tides
Andy Goldsworthy--Environmental Artist
Talking Pictures - Talking Pictures, Episode 02 - Andy Goldsworthy