Andy Goldsworthy is the sort of man that books have been written about. He is a prolific artist, photographer and environmentalist whose work hinges on his – and our – interaction with nature. Instead of searching for a spot with perfect lighting, an ideal tree and shooting at the ideal time of the year like most photographers, Goldsworthy sees all locations as perfect in their imperfection, indelible parts of our environment.
Using whatever material he finds, including branches, rocks, leaves, feathers and flowers, he works with the natural topography and condition of the site to create fleeting sculptures, be it snowing or raining, using a puddle, river, stump or fence. Regarding this process, Goldsworthy says:
These things are all part of the transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient—only in this way can the cycle remain unbroken and the process complete. I cannot explain the importance to me of being part of the place, its seasons and changes.
This concept comes up a lot here at Plant Propaganda. When creating with natural materials, the work is inherently temporary, but also changes over time, mimicking larger natural processes like seasons, decomposition, death and rebirth.
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. I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it, these processes continue.
Goldsworthy photographs each piece to capture them at what he calls their “peak,” when they express the most energy and purpose, before they begin to weather and change. He uses a standard lens and film without any filters so as to document his work as it actually exists. These photographs have been exhibited all over the world. But to truly appreciate his art, one has to visit – or stumble across it – in person. Or, alternately, go out and create something of your own. After all, didn’t each of us do this as a child? Primitive art-making with sticks and leaves in mud? I know I did. Goldsworthy’s work encourages us to continue this unburdened relationship with nature even as we grow.
Photos © Andy Goldsworthy
For more information, visit his website.