Andy Goldsworthy. Stories Written in the Landscape

Clip from Thomas Riedelsheimer, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (Burlington, VT: Docurama, 2001), video. Courtesy Skyline Productions Ltd.

Andy Goldsworthy makes art from the land, working directly with its surface and materials. His relationship to the land began with farming. At thirteen, while living on the outskirts of Leeds, he worked on farms as a laborer and thought he would grow up to be a farmer or gardener. “Farming is a very sculptural profession,” Goldsworthy says, comparing “building haystacks or ploughing fields”1 to his own constructions and mark making on the land. Goldsworthy’s imprints, from piled rocks to ice sculptures, become a part of the land’s history—a layer that builds upon the stories he reads in the landscape. His work with wool, for example, alludes to the physical and social impact of sheep on Scotland’s Highlands: “The reason this landscape looks as it is, with no trees, is because of the sheep. . . . The sheep have had this very deep impact on the land. . . . They have been responsible for social and political upheavals, the Highland Clearances—when people were put off the land, the landlords put sheep on the land and moved the people away. And they’ve left their story behind them.”2 For Goldsworthy, to know the land is to understand the histories that have shaped it.

  1. Andy Goldsworthy, in Tim Adams, “Natural Talent,” The Observer, March 10, 2007, available at ↩︎

  2. Andy Goldsworthy, in Thomas Riedelsheimer, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (Burlington, VT: Docurama, 2001), video, 1:32 hours. ↩︎