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“The underlying tension of a lot of my art is to try and look through the surface appearance of things. Inevitably, one way of getting beneath the surface is to introduce a hole, a window into what lies below.”
Not too long ago here in the Rabbit Room we followed a thread dealing with creative intent, and talked at length about the artist’s responsibility to mean something with their art, and the beholder’s responsibility to look for it. It gave rise to the observation that sometimes beauty, simplicity or playfulness is meaning enough.
I’m not sure what Andy Goldsworthy “means” with his art, but it is beautiful, simple and playful–and it’s among my favorites to look at.
Andy Goldsworthy, born in 1956, is a British artist/photographer who literally uses the earth as his canvas. From Japan to Scotland to the US to the North Pole to the Australian Outback, Goldsworthy travels around, picks up things he finds on the earth’s floor or stuck to the earth’s walls, rearranges them and in so doing shows us things we’ve seen a million times in ways we’ve never seen them before.
And when you look at his photography it often feels like you’re seeing icicles, leaves, feathers or rocks for the first time.
His work is mystifying, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed just looking at what he creates (or maybe “co-opts” is a better word) from his natural surroundings.
He’s like M.C. Escher stuck in the woods with no paper or pencil.
Most major booksellers carry his work, and if you’re looking for a new coffee table book, any of his collections will captivate your imagination for a good long time to come. Here he is in his own words, along with a few more images.
“I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and ‘found’ tools—a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn. ”
“Looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. The energy and space around a material are as important as the energy and space within. The weather–rain, sun, snow, hail, mist, calm–is that external space made visible. When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it. It is not independent of its surroundings, and the way it sits tells how it came to be there.”
Google him for much more…
Russ Ramsey is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church Cool Springs in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children. He grew up in the fields of Indiana and studied at Taylor University and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM). Russ is the author of the Retelling the Story Series (IVP, 2018) and Struck: One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017).