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Artist Spotlight – Andy Goldsworthy

British artist Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire, England and raised in Yorkshire.  Throughout his career, most of Goldsworthy’s work has been made in the open air, in diverse locations throughout the world. The materials he uses are those to hand in the remote locations he visits: twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds and thorns. Most works are ephemeral but demonstrate, in their short life, Goldsworthy’s extraordinary sense of play and of place.

The shapes he works from his raw materials are basic: spiral, circle, cone, arch, column, sphere, and undulating line. Often a form will encircle a naturally occurring object, such as a tree or boulder. Other times his forms seem to play with objects, hanging from them or leading to them. Some are designed to play with light and shadow. All have the effect of integrating the area around them as part of the finished sculpture.

The Hess Persson Museum features several of Goldsworthy’s works, including Surface Tension, originally created in 1993 and reassembled on our property in 2009. The long leafstocks from a chestnut tree were wetted and then pinned together using hawthorn spines.  The woody thorns hold the entire peice to the walls and ceiling no glue or hardware were used; only the thorns hold the work together. You can view a short timelapse of this painstaking process at our Youtube channel.

Another favorite to be found in the Hess gallery is Rock Pools, created in January 2000.  This piece involves 34 kiln-fired Greywacke sea boulders (pronounced grey-whack or whack-uh); dark, coarse-grained sandstone containing more than 15 percent clay amalgamated with shale and silt. These were fired in a kiln at just above 3,000° Fahrenheit (1648.889 Celsius) to the point where the stone becomes molten.

Adjacent to to Rock Pools you will find a viewing room with a separate, related work – a video installation which films elements of the Greywacke boulder firing process, where you can observe the stone undergo a seamless, mesmerizing transition from black through white-hot and back again.

Goldsworthy is a wonderful role model for children, particularly in the areas of sensitivity to the environment and thoughtful, creative engagement with the environment. Goldsworthy rarely uses living plant materials in his work, nor does he make sculptures intended to last for longer than the materials themselves. Ice sculptures are allowed to melt, leaves to fall from their thorny supports, twigs to fall in place as they might have naturally.

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