Rivers and Tides

Work from Rivers and Tides © Andy Goldsowrthy

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut recently. I have bunches of unfinished work and it’s hard to get up the inspiration to get in the studio. I am almost done with the piece in the last post, so that has started to lift the fog. Then I watched an art documentary last night that put the wind back in my sails.

Rivers and Tides follows environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy as he works on pieces in Nova Scotia, New York, France, and at his home base in Scotland. He uses natural materials that he gathers from the immediate area to create ephemeral works in the environment. He made work using leaves, moss, ice, driftwood, stones, bracken, flowers, and wool. Bits were connected using thorns and very small sticks. Some leaves were altered by scratching on their backs, icicles were broken up and remelted together into new shapes. It was amazing!

Cairn ©1997 Andy Goldsworthy Herring Island, Victoria, Australia

The work used a lot of meandering lines that drew on the paths of rivers. Pieces would be placed alongside rivers and the ocean using the tides as a part of the piece. As he put it, his piece is given to the sea as a gift and the sea takes it and makes more of it. His real work is change. Changing the environment, allowing the environment to change his pieces. I loved his line, “total control can be the death of a work.” Also when he talked about taking it to the very edge of collapse, “a beautiful balance.”

Other themes in his work were a series of cone shapes, arches, and bunch dealing with black holes. It was especially nice to see that he can spend a whole day working on a piece that just collapses over and over again. So often you get this idea that an artist can get to a point where they never experience failure, but that just isn’t true. They persevere despite that set back and go on to make better and better pieces because of it.