I recently watched Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time, a documentary about the landscape sculptor who installs works of stone, ice, wood, leaves, and other natural materials into the environment. While familiar with his transitory environmental installations, I had not been exposed to the man behind the work prior to watching this film. As an artist who is inspired by organic forms and who is also interested in enjoying and preserving the environment, Rivers and Tides was an interesting watch.
Although the film felt a little slow at first, the speed had the benefit of slowing me, the viewer, down. Besides the inevitable collapse of a number of works, there is no drama, climax, or plot to this film. Rather the quiet journey with Goldsworthy enables the viewer to place him or herself into his world to appreciate the many subtleties and thoughts he shares as he observes, studies, and reflects upon the evolution of his work.
I wasn't far into the film before I found myself thinking about how Goldsworthy's experiences, materials, and ethics were significant to my own work, which brought me to write a list,
Four (or more) things to learn from Andy Goldsworthy:
- Work is temporary: minimal environmental mark, non-materialistic, isn’t intended to last
- Innovative use of materials: connections, combinations (including with surrounding environment), materials and environment are clearer with use of simple design
- Subtle: blends with surroundings, can exist without being discovered
- Work ethic: must work for self identification, takes work "to the very edge of collapse," always learning, always making, always playing
These are all interesting things for me to think about, especially when considering jewelry and how it relates to the body. While I doubt I'll be making and selling any temporary jewelry, making work that has minimal environmental impact has more of an interest to me.
His earnest interest in learning about the materials also plays a large part in Goldsworthy's endeavors. An expectation of deterioration (especially when pushing organic materials as close to the edge as he does), facilitates his journey of creation, allowing him to make without needing to have a tangible and permanent object as a result. As an admittedly sentimental person, I find this concept particularly enchanting and liberating!
Goldsworthy is a delight in this film. Introspective, open, and playful, he is always learning and evolving. I recommend the film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time, to anyone who has an interest in contemporary art, design, and the environment.