Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We have quite a few Andy Goldsworthy fans in town, and with good reason. His natural art installations readily appeal to people - like us - that live amidst stunning natural beauty (especially when the sun shines). His latest book, Enclosure, documents an installation he created in the rugged landscape of Cumbria, England. Over the course of a decade, Goldsworthy produced over 40 structures that embrace and accentuate not only the natural glory of the landscape, but also the human presence that has been there for centuries. Many of his pieces take on the form of enclosures, built of hand-lain stone walls, that mimic the old sheep enclosures that Cumbrian farmers have been building forever. (To be perfectly honest, if I had stumbled across some of his cairns when hiking around Cumbria - something I do on such a regular basis - I would have assumed they were relics of druid sacred sites). Goldsworthy even manages to incorporate the English weather into his art, carefully decorating a wire fence with wool and letting the wind gradually carry it away; or constructing temporary dams of sticks and stones and letting spring runoff wash them away. My particular favorite is his "Hanging Trees" piece (pgs 176-181), where huge polished tree limbs seem to be growing sideways inside massive stone enclosures. Every photo in this book makes you wish you could have seen the work in situ, and I imagine many of these pieces are still in place should you get over to England. I can't help but wonder what the phlegmatic Cumbrian farmers thought of all this activity around their fields, tho.

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