Andy Goldsworthy

Goldsworthy is a land artist whose work derives from the materials he finds at a location. He references sight specific context to relate his artwork to the history and geographical make-up of the area.

“Slate Arch” is located in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales which is in North Wales in the middle of the Snowdonia National Park. Slate was chosen as his material due to North Wales’ emphasis on slate mining. The brittle material is often used in building houses, particularly in slating roofs. This reference to architecture is also related to the arch shape. Goldsworthy describes arches as being “Very human” as they have to be purposefully constructed; they are not formed naturally. This human intervention into organising natural materials is iconic of Andy Goldsworthy’s art.


This location/sight specific work is something I hope to reflect in my own work; picking materials from the environment and rearranging them there.

Another common theme in his work is its subtle ephemeral nature; these pieces are designed to eventually fade away, crumble, disassemble or otherwise cease to exist as a sculpture. This aims to draw on the relationship between human and nature; we interact and try to arrange it but it eventually resets the equilibrium of our need to organise – often done by the sculpture falling apart and returning to its component parts.

“Dead Hazel Sticks Bent Over Stuck Into Bottom of Shallow Pond” interests me due to its inclusion of water and reflection adding as much value to the piece as the actual materials – the sticks – do. When the sticks are submerged, their reflection goes on to create an infinite shape from all angles. The idea of infinity summons the imagery of time in a visual way, again communicating man’s relationship with nature, making us feel like a blink in the lifetime of the natural world.

This piece was also about the process:

“waited for froth and mud to clear, had to go back into water several times to bend a stick that had sprung up, then had to wait all over again for water to clear, very calm, took a long time for froth to float away, overcast and humid.” –

As Goldsworthy mentions, the sticks sprung up even during the construction of the piece. This violent reaction to Goldsworthy’s interaction is key to this piece’s power. It is quite volatile and undoes itself in definite ways to oppose any kind of disturbance to the natural order. This both references the notion of trying to perceive and display the concept of infinity, and the concept of trying to tame and order our world.