Friday, 21 January 2011

Assignment 3. Module 1. ANDY GOLDSWORTHY

It seems mad to me now that I had not heard of Andy Goldsworthy before I began this course. I have been interested in making sculptures in nature all my life - as a child I had a wild imagination and used to love building sandcastles on the beach and creations in the woods. I would spend ages making piles of teetering rocks and leaf pictures never realising that an expansion on this would be considered art! With my own children I have continued this theme and have always encouraged them on the beach, in the woods, on a country walk to " think outside the box" and to add to and enhance the landscape using the materials to hand. Imagine my delight when I found Andy Goldsworthy!

Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956. He studied fine art at Bradford College of Art ( 1974-75) and at Preston Polytechnic which is now known as the University of Central Lancashire. It was here that he gained his BA degree. He gradually moved further north to Scotland due to economics and a desire to work among the landscapes of these areas.

These leaves are effectively laid to give the impression that there has been a tin of green paint neatly tipped over a random collection in the woods. The bright green leaves have been selected as they have the exact same tone, shade and colour of green, which in itself is an achievement when working with nature - they have then been laid in a circle and the brown leaves laid around in such a clever way that the artist has created a fluid line crossing the perimeter of the circle so that the leaves appear to change colour. He has selected leaves whose shape and size will continue the shape and size of the leaves in the circle and initially your eye doesn't notice this detail. Once you look closer you can see that the green circle appears to be a trick of light or a work of paint and unless you know the precise and extremely clever use of nature that is Andy Goldsworthys work you might even leave it at that! It is amazing to find out that there are these varying colours of leaves in one place, around one tree. If you saw the leaves from a distance it wouldn't look strange as the colours would be randomly spread however like this the leaves and the colours are extremely dramatic.

Andy Goldsworthy uses nature as his tools and creates often large but always striking, " situations" or " sculptures. He uses only what is readily available to him in the surrounding area right down to using thorns to stitch leaves together and spit, saliva, sap or rabbit for glue. He works with whatever weather occurs and allows the sculptures to develop, sometimes even disintergrate according to the change in climate. His work is often affected by rain, snow and wind!

The picture above shows a river with a naturally occurring rock in the middle. Andy Goldsworthy has added leaves of a bright gold colour tightly packed to the rock. From a distance the rock would look very striking as a mound of gold among a fairly brown and " natural" background. Up close the rock would be found to be tightly packed with naturally gold coloured leaves and the effect is still striking but the work can be appreciated too. Andy Goldsworthys online Digital library contains a detailed account of each sculpture and a detailed description of the materials used and the circumstances of the weather, temperatures, time taken and how many attempts were made to achieve the final successful resultk/"> This link is to the digital library for 1976 -1986.

This rock in the picture above has once again been coloured in with leaves. Leaves and flowers are the materials he seems to use as "paint" in nature and I find this concept very inspirational. Taking colour where you find it and using it to fill in the parts you wish to illustrate.

Much of Andy Goldsworthys work is situated in Scotland in the highlands and having recently visited there during autumn I can say that the landscape and naturally occurring colours does make his job easier! No less impressive, but certainly the depth and variation of colour and the avaliability of impressive rocks and stones are extremely moving and inspirational without being recreated into art forms. He also works in America and

This picture shows a bridge of rocks placed side by side. These arches are a common theme in his creations, in the book 'Wood" there are three balanced on a branch of a tree. The effect, as here is very striking but as he states in his description in his book,"Wood" it was raining heavily, very muddy and there was one collapse. Andy Goldsworthy photographs his work after he finishes it and it is often these pictures, which form beautiful books, which are the only remaining evidence of the existence of his work. The pieces are often photographed during various stages of collapse and decay and he has even been known to photograph the flotsam and jetsam which is all that remains after a piece has melted. His photographs of his works are beautiful and it is interesting to see how different times of the day and the light and temperature affect the pictures. Andy Goldsworthy states that he uses a basic camera and no added lighting techniques, preferring instead to let the structures speak for themselves using natural light and surroundings.

I find Andy Goldsworthys work very inspiring and I adore the way he uses natural materials in their normal location but moves them or collects them in an unnatural way which appears natural!! In his book Wood, he arranges snow along the branch of a tree in a zig zag pattern which looks very striking, it is just slightly off of the natural line that the snow would fall and snow does not fall in zig zags but it looks that just this once it may have done! I admire the fantastical way he rearranges nature in a kind of Alice in Wonderland style and then leaves it to decay a cording to the natural elements. The following five pictures are taken from the book Wood and are examples of how he has slightly altered natures path. The beautiful red leaves that " fall" down the centre "V" of the tree, the bright yellow leaves that he has stitched with thorns which are appearing to fall in a path around the rivers bank joining up two branches several feet apart.

All of his work is very imaginative and makes me want to think of unusual ways to use materials and to make use of what is under your nose - make do and mend rather than constantly buying new things. I like the way Andy Goldsworthy uses the spaces around the materials and so the surroundings become integral to the final piece. Art is not all about filling up space it is sometimes about allowing a natural pause or appreciating the space around part of a piece of work. He uses a lot of holes which act in two ways. The first is to give a shadow to pieces and make them more defined, the second way is to give the pieces actual depth which makes you look beyond the leaves, snow or whatever is immediately in front of you.

Andy Goldsworthys work often appears fairly simple and this is something else that I really like about his work. I prefer things to be unfussy and fairly plain and I find these shapes created often give a more striking image and have a more emotive feeling. Sometimes when there is a lot going on you are trying so hard to take it all in and appreciate the workmanship and wonder what the artist was trying to convey that you end up feeling a bit numb. My husband and I recently visited the National Gallery and saw lots of works paired


  1. Now look at Richard Long and Chris Drury
    There is a book you will like called Silent Spaces by Chris Drury published by Thames & Hudson

  2. I love Goldsworthy, especially his snow, ice and leaf scupltures. When I did my teacher training I recall seeing his work on the news. He put lots of giant snowballs with contents like berries, wood, rocks etc on the streets of London on midsummers day and photographed them melting. I could spend hrs browsing through those books on each material.