Andy Goldsworthy: Ice, Stone, and Trees
By Sritama Halder

My sculpture can last for days or a few seconds – what is important to me is the experience of creation.  making. I leave all my work outside and often return to watch it decay” – Andy Goldsworthy

The British land artist Andy Goldsworthy (1956- ) doesn’t  require any material other than a boulder beside a river and a handful of autumn leaves. Andy Goldsworthy, British land artist, photographer, and environmentalist,  alumni of Bradford Art College, began creating ephemeral sculptures in the mid-1970s. Considered as the father of modern rock balancing, Goldsworthy works with natural elements like stones, ice, leaves, twigs, and rain.  Nature doesn’t remember the past. The transience and beauty of this ephemerality is the focus of Goldsworthy’s art. His work like nature and life, are forever in flux.

Unlike other artists, he does not follow any rules when he is creating his site-specific open-air sculptures. He creates his techniques. The forms that he creates are neither pre-meditated nor accidental. They happen to him. An assorted collection of pebbles with different shapes /shades, a water body, fallen leaves in a particular space would trigger in  him the vision of a shape. In the work shown above in the middle, he has used  pebbles  in grey and white tones. The pebbles are arranged  such that lighter colour radiates from the centre and  darkens around the edge. It creates a sense of light. Goldsworthy has  depicted this form with  different materials. The work on the right is one such example. It is  amazing to see  how he creates this light by ingeniously  using different colour tones.

He  moulds his material into shapes with his own body and tools he finds.  His is an organic process that begins from the moment he starts wandering,  picking  up objects with his bare hands and using them to create  a unique shape.  In  this process, his body becomes  part of his creation , and in a larger sense,  nature.

His creations  end with the slow and natural disintegration  of the materials used. They are meant to fall apart, they are meant to decay. Our experience with his environmental sculpture is only through  photographs taken by the artist. These photographs are exhibited in galleries and   books.  One may sense a  change  in our perception of  Goldsworthy’s work first hand and feeling it in our souls. How do we perceive the amazing silence that surrounds his  work?

Goldsworthy also undertakes  large commissions,  both open air and gallery installations alike. Unlike his solitary ephemeral works, he often employs a group of people and uses industrial tools.  These creations are organic and almost like a performance. One such creation  is the Earth Wall (2014).

This installation  began with a globe made out of pieces of eucalyptus wood  then a thick earthen wall was constructed over it. The artist chipped  out the earthen wall to reveal the wooden structure beneath.  This process  is like an archaeological excavation of forgotten cities and human civilizations buried for centuries. The artwork is not just the wooden object jutting out of a manmade wall – the artwork is the whole process of building, digging and creation  itself.

Goldsworthy’s works are about memories. They are a part of human history that was never documented in books. Aeons ago our ancestors worshipped nature  for its power to both nurture and destroy.  Goldsworthy brings back to life that magic called nature. He reminds us that we, the little people, of an old planet are not part of nature. We are nature. Our detachment from it means we are losing touch with our souls. Andy Goldsworthy celebrates, through his works, the life form dormant everywhere waiting to be liberated.

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