Rivers and Tides

Posted by on Friday, September 30th, 2005

Rivers and Tides: Working with Time is a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy and his way of working.  I’m a huge fan of Goldsworthy’s, so I loved the film.  I’ve heard some complaints that it’s slow.  Well, if you don’t understand why the film-maker holds focus on a tide coming in and dismantling a driftwood sculpture, you don’t understand Goldsworthy and you should watch something else.  His work is about impermanence and nature and seasonal changes and tides and stone’s collapse and reformation.  The work’s destruction is part of its meaning. 

Right, so, part of what made me incredibly happy while watching this film was seeking Goldsworthy curse when a sculpture he was working on would fall apart.  I love that this genius sculptor has to watch his art fall apart too soon and start again, with a tide or a storm looming in the background.  I love that it doesn’t always work for him and that he keeps trying and retooling the balance of a thing until he gets it right.  I love that to get to the serene beauty of a finished piece, he has to race and scrape his knuckles and pin things together with black-thorns.  The still beauty comes from hard, frustrating work.  And he gets it right so often.  And that "right" means "worth documenting and then abandoning to nature to sort out."  I love that he builds his gorgeous balanced stone egg-shaped cairns and doesn’t balk when his Highland cattle scratch themselves on it rather vigorously.  I love that he’s an environmental artist who actually gives a crap about the planet, and makes sure that he’s not causing any harm as he works. 

And I shrieked with delight when he started playing with wool.  Of course I did–I’m obsessed with wool.  There are some lovely black-faced sheep wandering about near his home.  But of course there are–the guy lives in Scotland.  Anyway, so I knew that he’d played with both wool and crow feathers (crow feathers–woot!) in previous sculptures, but I didn’t know he was still up to it when the film was made.  But of course he is–the guy is in love with sheep folds.  But knowing that this genius is also a wool guy–a fiber-artist who just happens to make things that are unwearable and occasionally focus on stone as his fiber.  Well, all I can say is I want to make him some nice warm socks.  And maybe some wristers after watching this.  I’m going to think about what sort of yarn to get–you look at these links.

Smithsonian article
His words
Snowballs in Summer
Storm King wall

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