The Art of the Land

Let’s take a second to talk about land art!


This work is by British land artist Andrew Goldsworthy – and isn’t it beautiful?!?

Land art is something I came across for the first time at high school and instantly went home to create some in my garden – which of course being in Scotland, blew away the SECOND I was finished constructing it.

A really key element to land art is some works created are only temporary, even if that’s only for a few minutes or sometimes, seconds.

More than that though – I always find it amazing how people can create something beautiful out of the things we see every day and take for granted!

So, Andrew Goldsworthy, the basics:

Andrew Goldsworthy is a British land artist’s whose tools of the trade are those which he finds around him. Leaves, sticks, stones and anything else he can get his hands on are used by Goldsworthy to craft the most beautifully bold and intricate works of land art.

The artist uses all kinds of environments as his canvas, from built up urban metropolises, roaming hill sides, quiet forest clearings or roaring waterfalls and streams.

On his work the artist says:

“When I make something, in a field or street, it may vanish but it’s part of the history of those places. In the early days, my work was about collapse and decay. Now some of the changes that occur are too beautiful to be described as simply decay. At Folkestone I got up early one morning ahead of an incoming tide and covered a boulder in poppy petals. It was calm and the sea slowly and gently washed away the petals, stripping the boulder and creating splashes of red in the sea. The harbour from which many troops left for war was in the background.”


Goldsworthy is not alone is his love of creating beauty from what lies before him.


Britain boasts of a number of excellent land artists which include the likes of Richard Long and Julie Brooks who both work with and against nature in their practise before surrendering their work completely to the mercy of the elements.


It's not like painting or sculpture that can be bought or sold, land art is a completely different element within the art world, which has established it's own set of rules which cannot be applied to any other art form other than it's own.


Think about it for a minute - anything you create, be that writing, crafts, a project at work - you are so protective over it, and rightly so, you've used your time and effort to create something which matters and is, in some way, important. Now, how would you feel if within minutes of it being created, it was destroyed?


Devastated? Angry? Annoyed?


Every emotion and response to the destruction would be valid.


And yet, land artists do not feel this. The destruction of the work is part of the process and that is why it stands alone in its field of art history.


It is one with nature.


Something enabled by and destroyed by.


It's a full circle process.


On working in nature, Goldsworthy states:


“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”


Perhaps then, land art is the cure to loosing ourselves?

What better way to be reminded of, and reconnect to natures's power and beauty, than to construct something from the land, only to watch it be reclaimed by it's very creator in the time it takes one to inhale and exhale.


Jo McLaughlin July 2020

All images within the blog are examples of work by British Land Artist, Andrew Goldsworthy.


The Artist tends not to name his works - unless they are going into catalogues and books then he gives them descriptive names. As and when I find the names of the above works, I will add them into the blog.


Andrew Goldsworthy lives and works in Scotland.

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