I’ve been exploring, studying the work of Andy Goldsworthy for a couple of decades, really. I was struck, immediately, by the work.

What I found compelling was the idea of finding patterning in pattern. That is, if you see something striking in nature, it’s a surprise, a revelation, an epiphany. And maybe this can last only for a moment or two. Sunlight, just glinting — glimmering on water. Mist appearing in a moment. Stones stacked by some random beauty. Driftwood like calligraphy on the shore. And that patterning can be seen anew — if you take the time to dig into those arrangements. Play with them. Tune them. And to be willing to simply let that arrangement move on, shift with time. Like everything else.

That is the key learning, for me, in watching the evolutions of Andy Goldsworthy over the course of the last 20 years. That movement has been steadfast. Beauty full, in its strength of conviction and rich character.


I’ve woven some Goldsworthy here, and some Timothy Shaw Girvin, in the intermingling of the imagery shown below. I’m sure that you can tell which ones are which.

And some Girvin, and some story.

I’d been at TED, this past month — this time in Aspen. I wrote some things there, that you can find here: http://blog.girvin.com/

And being there, that experience, renewed and reconnected me with Andy Goldsworthy.

He’s an artist lauded by the Aspen Institute. So there’s art by him all around. Perhaps a show of his works, that filtered the grounds. Here are some photographs that I’d taken at the Institute:

And the nature of the making, that he does — is simply about looking for the right place, the right alignment, the right objects. And a willingness to create something of beauty that will, truly, not last.

From the history of my life, I started stacking stones maybe about the same time that Goldsworthy did.

Perhaps before.

Andy began in the 80s.

Where I’d seen this was up in the mountains. And what you’d experience, is to come wandering across some opening snow field — where the scree is hard to find from the snow covered path — and where the snow obscures the way. And then people will put up the cairn as a kind of marker. This cairn building doesn’t need to be on a snowfield either. Scrambling paths are similarly — vague.

And you can get lost. Cairns fit in. But they tell the way, as well.

Actually, I didn’t think that this was something that was about marking, more about something that was there — as a kind of art. Something kind of mysterious. Who made them, and how? Why?

Is, still mysterious, I suppose.

That’s part of the history, for me, of putting things up. Putting anything up. Getting it out there.

I’d written about that, here: http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/?p=391 And I’d written about my daughter, here: http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/?p=317

But Andy, born three years after me, is far more than just about the idea of stacking stones: it’s more about how to create entrancements in nature. And that is about looking at patterning in patterning. An arrangement of wood is not only the small collection of objects, but perhaps the larger stream of driftwood that lies around it, which is framed in the longer view of the beach, and the shoreline…extending outwards.

Things that are patterned, a kind of natural rhythm, merely belie other things that vibrate to other patterns. So it’s about patterning that you find on one level, that is also speaking to other patterns, that lie on another level, in turn — that lie on another level.

And another.

Entrancements — for me — it is about the idea of creating entrances to seeing. You look at something, there’s surprise, and you’ve seen something that you’d not seen before. You are suddenly seeing a patterning that you didn’t see before; it’s like hearing, or sensing, another rhythm that reaches into you in a new way. I’d written about the concept of enthrallment — http://blog.girvin.com/?p=693 — being enthralled is a kind of enslavement; you’re experiencing a new entrapment.

I suppose, for me, it’s about that.

Dawn Clark, AIA

That curiosity for me is about:

compulsion — with the pulse of a new force or rhythm
passion — I’m drawn into the moment, the momentum of pain and commitment
bewitchment — I’m magically transformed; I don’t see the way I did before
surprise — the prize that is beyond, the next level
transmigration — I was there, now I’m here.

I find that this is the place that is best for me: in change — surprise | transformed view | something opening that is just like beginning, anew | and that’s a good thing:

beginner’s eye.

I believe that Andy’s curiosity is all about that exploration.

Beginner’s eye.

More soon.

Stack something. Yourself.

tsg | decatur island
I’d gathered some other treatments by Goldsworthy, that expand on the ideas of arrangement. And color. And patterning.

And some of them, I’m sure that you’ve seen.

Others, perhaps not.

It’s a rich legacy of work — all made by hand, all shot by Goldsworthy.

All beauty, found in seeing into the patterning of nature.

And you can do that, too.

And maybe you have.

Maybe you can tell me about what you’ve done.