Polar Vortex- Andy Goldsworthy’s Ice and Snow Sculptures

Andy Goldsworthy, Touching north, North Pole (1989)goldsworthyIcicles1_op_592x600 goldsworthy-ice_ball_21999_3goldsworthy

Although most of America (currently enduring one of the worst winter cold snaps in nearly two decades) would like to ignore this fact in for favor of bundled layers and heated blankets, sometimes even the dire cold, snow and ice can provide the tools and inspiration for those who brave it’s elements.  Famed land and installation artist Andy Goldsworthy (previously here and here) has often utilized ice, frost, snow and frozen earth to create his trademark land interventions. And rather than avoiding the elements, Goldsworthy is only able to create these delicate and precise sculptures by embracing the cold.

In Goldsworthy’s 2004 documentary, Rivers & Tides, several scenes document the difficulty in attempting to harness the cold’s elements. One scene shows the artist, braving the winter elements for hours at a time in finger-less gloves (so as to be able to properly feel and hold the materials) fusing together icicle chunks together with warm water, holding them in place while they freeze together into naturally-made though unnatural shapes. The smallest temperature changes, light, and even chance cause the ice sculpture to collapse, repeatedly, which is all part of Goldsworthy’s process. Says the artist, “Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that  I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature.”

Goldsworthy’s process is only captured through the use of photographs, and the often detailed notes (below) which the artist uses to document the difficulties and triumphs of each individual piece.

ag_02391

ICE ARCH

left to freeze overnight
before supporting pile of stones removed
(made in a field of cows – tense wait)
pissed on stone too frozen to come out
fourth attempt successful
other three arches collapsed or melted
Brough, Cumbria
1-2 December 1982

ag_01374Ice on Ice. Ilkley, Yorkshire. January 1980.ag_03445Ice Ball. Hampstead Heath, London. December 1985ag_03460Ice Arch. Hampstead Heath, London. December 1985.

ag_03164_mSnow Shadow. Brough, Cumbria. January 1985.ag_02853Snow Compacted Into Series of Joining Arches. Helbeck, Cumbria. January 1984.


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