Happy Birthday Andy Goldsworthy!

Andy Goldsworthy from Rivers and Tides

Happy Birthday Andy Goldsworthy! British natural artist.  Working with leaves, grass, feathers, berries, wood, dirt, sand, stone, ice and water, a true natural palette, Goldsworthy creates art that can surprise and delight us with possibilities often overlooked in the world around us: a track of leaves arranged chromatically, a delicate sculpture of stalks completed by its own reflection in water, arches made of snow or stars made of icicles.

Knotweed stalks Derwent Water, Cumbria  from Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature

Knotweed stalks Derwent Water, Cumbria from Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature

 

I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I will 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 material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn.”

A documentary, Rivers and Tides, shows the artist at work.  His hands are battered: the seasons and his materials have taken their toll.  Goldsworthy, persevering through repeated collapses of wood and stone, shows how challenging it can be to create art that seems to spring magically from the earth.

“I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and found tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns.  I am not playing the primitive.  I use my hands because this is the best way to do most of my work.”

Soon after their completion, many of Goldsworthy’s creations are carried off by wind, water or the heat of the sun.  Thankfully, they are preserved in photographs. The works in stone seem more enduring, though they too are subject to the elements.  Their decay will be measured in years rather than in minutes, hours or days.

Detail of the Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold  photo by Espresso Addict

Detail of the Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold photo by Espresso Addict

 

“Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of the cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive.  There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expressed in the image.  Process and decay are implicit.”

Goldsworthy sees himself as a collaborator with nature.  His goal, using nature’s materials in a specific place at a specific time, is “giving nature a more powerful presence.”

For a quick visual introduction to Andy Goldsworthy’s work:

The University of Glasgow has created the Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue which samples his work from 1976 to 1986

The documentary, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time, records the artist at work in some spectacularly beautiful sites.

Many books have been published on Goldsworthy’s art.  Two of the best are Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature and Time, both by the artist.



This is the first of an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthdays of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers, and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth.  Who has inspired you?  Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.