In this essay I will highlight his background and influences and discuss how land art helps us to understand and appreciate the complexities of nature through art.
Andy Goldsworthy is primarilly a photographer and a sculptor, influenced mainly by the natural environment and the way that he and society interacts with it. His inspiration is derived from found objects in the natural world (trees, leaves, icicles, stones) and his work aims to interact with the natural process or environment so as to become part of the natural world itself. His own special connection with the land is evident throughout and illustrates his own personal journey through life and nature.
Goldsworthy was born in 1956 in Cheshire, England, and was raised on the wild Yorkshire Moors.
Picture of Yorkshire Moor
He studied art at Bradford Art College 1974 and found the environment there to be limiting and sterile. He started creating his trademark land art outside - first on the beaches in Lancashire and then studied at Lancaster Art College 1975–1978.
Picture of his first Art on lancashire beach
Goldsworthy was born and bred on a farm on the Yorkshire Moors. The natural environment was his home and his life. His upbringing there has had a great impact on the work he creates.
From the age of 13 he observed the weather patterns, how the seasons transformed the earth and how subtle changes transformed the landscape as time passed from one minute to another and from one year to the next. These environmental changes, subtle and dramatic transformations, so key to understanding and working the land in farming, became Goldsworthy’s materials and as an artist change and the lapse of time became his paint pallet.
Much of his work is directly influenced by his early experiences of life on the farm, the cycle of life and death and the deconstruction of nature.
Picture of yorkshire moor at dawn - sun rise in the spring or similar
From and early age Goldworthy was at home with nature. He learned to be practical and hands on. As a farm labourer he learned to skins hares, fell trees, dig ditches, plant hedges, mend fences and build dry stone walls. His connection with nature was practical and not romantic.
Picture of a dry stone wall
The wide open spaces of the Yorkshire moors were his home and garden. The shovel, the saw, the hammer and the plough his daily tools in the pursuit of farming became his tools for sculpting the art he created from the natural world around him.
Picture of Goldsworthy as a young man
As a young artist and observer of nature Goldsworthy first began to photograph the landscape. As time progressed he started to interact with what he saw in a more phylosophical way - looking to nature to provide a wider understanding of the world around him and his state of consciousness. Always mindful of his childhood roots on the farm, simple farm objects such as hay bales, ploughed fields, dry stone walls were to impact on his work.
Goldsworthy believed that all forms are to be found in nature, and that there are many qualities within any material including of course life itself which is time sensitive. Any material lives, thrives, decays and dies in nature. This energy and force is captured in Goldsworthy’s work in the course of his explorations and interactions with nature.
“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.
Picture of Relevant art work with description
.....By exploring them I hope to understand the whole. My work needs to include the loose and disordered within the nature of material as well as the tight and regular”.
He became aware of what raw nature is in a…