Stone age

Beatrice Colin talked to artist Andy Goldsworthy about his new book.

‘Look. The light’s just changed. The stones have come out a different colour which is reflecting in the water underneath.’ Andy Goldsworthy sits on a large flat rock in a quarry in Dumfriesshire. Nearby are seven arches made of sandstone which he is constructing for a show in London. The richly strataed rock glows deep red in the afternoon sun and the structures look so precarioust balanced they seem to wriggle. ‘Things like that interest me,‘ he adds. ‘I want to understand. I want to know about light and know about stones. So I work with it to try and come to terms with it.‘

Andy Goldsworthy has spent the last seventeen years working with stone. snow. water. earth and materials from the natural world. Using them as a painter might use brushes and pigment, he has created a number of indoor installations. permanent outdoor pieces and what he calls ephemeral works. From pictures created from melting icicles, and dry stone cairn structures to balancing rocks. his work is original and inspirational. It has prompted invitations to exhibit and make work for galleries from San Francisco to Tokyo plus numerous requests for private and public commissions.

Goldsworthy photographs every piece he makes and he has now amassed a considerable back catalogue. He has just published a book entitled Stone of images plus his own text. This gives an insight into his talent. methods. philosophy and his singie-minded approach.

‘Nature ls bullt In layers. It becomes rlch with those layers and you can only understand that you are the next layer and there have been layers before and wlll be layers beyond. That glves you a context.’

It's rare to find him working all week in a quarry, he tells me in a flattened Yorkshire accent. He doesn't usually work that way. Goldsworthy waits for the next question. He looks a bit like his art; his eyes resemble shiny wet pebbles and, beneath a speckled beard his face is smooth and creviced like bedrock.

The sun passes behind a shadow and it starts to rain. Large thick drops which quench the sandstone. staining it deep red. His eyes flit down to our makeshift seat. Last year he lay outstretched on flat stones for several hours while it rained to create dry human shadows. He looks as if he feels the temptation to do it again.

‘I work every day,‘ he says. ‘I like to go out every morning and sometimes I work for an hour and sometimes for the whole day. What‘s important is the rhythm. My ephemeral pieces are at the core of everything. That’s where I draw my energy from.’

But what does he see when he looks at Scuar Water, the place near his home where he spends most time?

. Work like placing a streak of bright yellow

dandelions in a rock pool beside the river is almost primal in its simplicity. It looks totally spontaneous. ‘I go back to the same places again and again and dip into work I've made in the past,’ he says. ‘My work comes from a need to touch and a need to be involved in nature and understand that I am nature too. But it does recognise my human nature and that the human touch is different from that ofeverything else.’

His works last for days, hours or even seconds. Towers of pebbles are knocked down by the tide and red earth makes fiery splashes in tranquil water. Impermanence and his perception of time are constants. ‘Nature is built in layers.‘ he points out. ‘It becomes rich with those layers and you can only understand that you are the next layer and there have been layers before and will be layers beyond. That gives you a context.‘

The transience of Goldsworthy‘s art is captured in his photographs. These are his way of looking. assessing and talking about his unique approach. In Stone. he has collected seven different but related

,4’. , , . wed“ ,5: A 3.4/- ,_ "m .e. Andy Goldsworthy: ‘My work comes from a need to touch and a need to be involved in nature and understand that I am nature too.’


strands such as Tom Stone. Walls and Cairns and created a dialogue between work and text. ‘lt‘s not necessarily the individual piece that interests me.‘ he says. ‘but the rhythm and flow which is running through it. and the images collected together give me a strong sense of that.‘ Andy Goldsworthy‘s talent is to harness something of his surroundings and create. In his new book. the breadth of his skill and sheer unself—conscious style is evident. To live in his world is to sieze the moment = before it changes. ‘Stone isn‘tjust a stone. it is the life of the place sometimes,‘ he says. ‘l‘ve worked with red earth in Australia and red sandstone here and the red is the life of the stone. Red is the evidence ofthe flow of i energy that has gone through the stone. through sand and through water. And that is what I‘m trying to touch on. That‘s why light and atmosphere are very ; important to me because that is where we see the i strongest evidence of that flow.’ : Stone by Andy Goldsworthy is published by Viking ; (£35 hardback).


88 The List 8—2] April 1994