Andy Goldsworthy’s land art

Andy Goldsworthy, an internationally renowned land artist, was born in Cheshire in 1956. There are regular exhibitions of his work in Britain, France and the United States. Although he travels all over the world to carry out commissions, the landscape around his home in Dumfries, south-west Scotland, remains at the heart of his work.  

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Andy Goldsworthy makes sculpture in the landscape using the materials of nature immediately to hand and the chance conditions of place, time, weather, season. The now-familiar forms of his art – arches, circles, columns, domes, holes, lines, spheres, spirals, spires – are powerful expressions of the patterns and rhythms of growth. They are attempts to understand the purpose of sculpture and through it the purposes of nature itself.

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Goldsworthy’s unusual practice has been to make each sculpture, which can vary in size from miniature to monumental, using only one kind of material and constructed during a brief time span, often within a single day. The work is then photographed before it naturally disintegrates.

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Andy Goldsworthy says about his sculptures: “I didn’t want the production to be too pastoral, to have a back-to-nature, New Age feel. It should not be ritualistic. I didn’t want my contribution to be merely a backdrop or ‘prop’ standing inert on the stage.”

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When he starts working outside, Andy has to establish instincts and feelings for Nature: some he never had, while others he had not used since childhood. He needs a physical link before a personal approach and relationship could be formed. He splashes in water, covers himself in mud, goes barefoot and wake with the dawn.

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Andy says, “I do not use glue or rope, preferring to explore the bonds and tensions that exist in nature. If I used glue I would forfeit the joy of discovering how materials join together by their own nature. The coloured leaf patches were discovered when I found one dark and one light leaf of the same size. I tore the dark leaf in two, spat underneath it and pressed it on to the light leaf: the result was what appeared to be a single, tow-coloured leaf. Excited by this discovery, I went on to make yellow (Elm), green (Elm), orange (Beech), white (Sycamore) and red (Cherry) patches.”

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To create the sculptures Andy Goldsworthy uses various materials that can be found in the nature – earth, seeds, roots, branches, leaves, trees, flowers, snow, sun… He creates objects that are look so natural, yet a bit odd, unusual, unexpected.


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