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In Praise of Temporary Sculpture

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“A snowball is simple, direct and familiar to most of us. I use this simplicity as a container for feelings and ideas that function on many levels. ”
~Andy Goldsworthy, Environmental Sculptor

Andy Goldsworthy

When we are talking about art, and we are talking about frugality, we should definitely be talking about Andy Goldsworthy.

His art is something that bridges the gap between both art and eco-friendliness but also speaks to us of other, perhaps more important, concepts like innocence and spirit.

Andy Goldsworthy, a British Sculptor who does some fantastic site-specific sculpture using natural materials found on location, has such a unique style. His work is transient, deliberately and most naturally temporary, lasting only so long as the winds, the seas, gravity or mankind allow.

He takes his inspiration from the colours and textures in the landscape, from the patterns so common in nature herself, and he delights in transmuting things from their ordinary form and function into something equally natural but yet astoundingly different.

Andy has been working since the seventies, when his disagreement with the restrictive programme at his art college led him to seek solace in the real, in the inspiring. In other words, in nature.

To look at some of his early works check out the online catalogue at Glasgow University’s website. Or if you’d like to watch a documentary about his more recent works, check out Rivers and Tides.

Leaf Mosaic

Since his beginnings Andy has become renown for his distinctive and ephemeral brand of landscape art, encompassing pre-dawn ice sculpture, beach sculptures that just barely beat the tide and leaf collages which tempt the fury of the winds.

There is something so sacred and yet so human about his type of artwork. It makes a beautiful and terrifying statement about the way in which man has such a great, and yet such a fleeting, effect on his environment. His pieces remind us of our divinity and our own mortality.

Pebble Mosaic with Hole

Andy’s casual, quiet nature, as well as his somewhat reclusive lifestyle in the Scottish Highlands, has left much room for new artists to follow his lead and, over the years, many have. But only one really deserves mentioning in the same arena as Goldsworthy, not necessarily for the grand scope of his works but for his similarly spiritual and unassuming approach to his craft. And that is Shane Hart.

Hart’s impromptu art, a precarious balancing act between upright stones that seem to have no right to defy gravity, has been given the name of Uppala Yoga. And it is certainly rooted in the philosophy and peaceful grace of yoga.

The uppala stone sculptures present elegance in the face of resistance, defying gravity with an awe-inspiring simplicity. To stumble upon one of his works unexpectedly would certainly challenge our own impressions of what is possible and what is divine.

Shane Hart at Work

All-in-all I am enamored of those who can, from found natural materials, channel through their unique spirit an original piece of low-tech art that showcases the innate magnificence in all creation.

The spiritual beauty in accepting, and even embracing, their art as temporary and transitional is what is most moving, and like all good art it speaks to that silent something in our human core which defies explanation. Now THAT is real art, here today, gone tomorrow yet leaving us with a splendid feeling and a memory that will last forever.

  • Van

    Hello I just stumbled upon your website, I too am I veg frugal housewife and I live in the same town (bellingham, WA) as Shane, its truly amazing to see him in action! He did a display in a natural grocery store I was working in.
    Look foward to see future posts.

  • Josie Kent “Boracay, Philippines”

    A very creative mind! Hope I could have a mind like that!