Andy Goldsworthy is an artist, although I hesitate to categorize him any more than that, who lives in Dumfresshire and Penpont, in the UK. He is a sort of sculptist who works with only the materials he finds in nature around him. He gives new life in unexpected ways to normal, everyday objects in nature like leaves, stones, ice and snow. His works are usually collected in breathtaking coffee table books which will make you think "How did he do that?" every time you turn the page. I highly recommend him.

He was commissioned to do a piece for the new national museum in Scotland in Edinburgh. I heard he was walking down Princes street and was caught in a shower. Quickly he lay on the ground and remained there until the shower passed. Then he stood up and took a picture of his dry silhouette surrounded by the freshly damp ground.

“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.”

- Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy (British, b. 1956) was born in Cheshire and raised in Yorkshire. He studied at Bradford College of Art in 1974-75 and Preston Polytechnic from 1975 to 1978.

Goldsworthy is known in the art world for his low impact sculpture and environmental sculpture. However, he is more than a sculptor he is also a photographer. Andy Goldsworthy’s images are just as relevant as the pieces he is photographing. Many photographers, dare I say most, photograph things they see. The images they create depict what they see and how they see it. After each sculpture is complete Goldsworthy takes a photograph of it. The photographs are stunning and capture the essence of the piece. No other photographer could create the same feeling; Goldsworthy can because he understands the crucial factors of light and space in relation to his work. In some instances the work (known as “throws”, dirt, sand, grass etc are thrown into the air, allowing gravity to take hold) will last only one fleeting moment leaving the photograph as the only documentation of its existence.

Goldsworthy has created sculptures in the following locations: England; Scotland; the North Pole; Japan; Australia; and the United States. The materials he uses, though always deriving from nature, are dependant on the location. He uses local materials to ensure the work will be united with the surrounding space. The seasons also affect the material used by Goldsworthy with the weather obviously affecting the resources available be it snow, fresh grass, or fallen leaves.

His appreciation of nature, and the nuances it provides, began as a teenager when he worked as a farm hand. When creating the sculptures Goldsworthy does not overlook any aspect down to the finest detail; for example, when attaching leaves together he does not used man-made materials such as glue but natural adhesives such as tree sap or thorns. This combination of multiple natural elements points out the interconnectedness of the environment. Goldsworthy also allows nature to take control over the life of the work. The pieces decay from exposure to wind, rain, sun, and other such natural interventions.

Goldsworthy is not only guided by nature for materials, but also for inspiration. He describes color as energy and allows this energy to manifest itself. His work therefore exemplifies man’s ability to control nature, but only temporarily. Eventually nature decides the fate of his work. His impact on nature is subtle and non-distressing. Goldsworthy is in harmony with his surroundings moving them, changing them, but never destroying them.

The forms that are created are also derived from nature. They are primarily organic, with little allusion to geometry. Some such forms are: the spiral; circle; cone; arch; and sphere. Much of Goldsworthy’s work is paradoxical. For example, Goldsworthy created a massive snowball that was surprisingly hollow. The snowball seems immensely heavy when in actuality the snow is as delicate as at it was when falling.

As of late many of Goldsworthy’s pieces have been made less ephemeral. They have been transported far from their original locations and can now be found in the safety of Goldsworthy’s studio.

Goldsworthy is not the only person who becomes united with nature through his work, so too does anyone who views his art. When looking upon his sculpture the viewer begins to question how it was created and realize the relationship between man and nature. This is an important element of Goldsworthy’s work because it is no longer simply aesthetically pleasing, but also emotionally moving and thought provoking.

Goldworthy Contemporaries:

Richard Long(British, b. 1945) Hamish Fulton(British, b. 1946)

Sources and Images:

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