Rivers and Tides

Rivers and Tides

Yesterday I went to see the documentary about Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides. It was extraordinary. I’ve known about Goldsworthy’s work for a long time — when I was a bookseller, I loved Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature, but I’d never seen his work in motion. In the movie, there are these extraordinary images of his art floating out to sea, or a long sinuous chain of bright-green leaves working it’s way out of a pool and flowing downriver.

Goldsworthy himself was also inspiring. I’ve been having a terrible time getting any work done these past weeks — my sorrow has hit the immobilization stage where it seems all I can do is sit on the couch with the dogs and watch daytime reruns of Judging Amy and Law and Order. So seeing Goldsworthy talk about how he goes out and makes something every day really helped. He didn’t say he goes out and makes art every day, just that he goes out and makes something. He was also terribly moving discussing the relation of time to his work, that it’s all ephemeral, as well as talking about his attraction to “black holes” which seem to puncture right into the dark soul of the world. He made one in the base of a tree the day after his sister-in-law died young, and it seemed, on screen, to be the perfect expression of the mute mystery that is grief.

So in order to get off the couch and away from the TV, I drove to town and splurged on a copy of Godlsworthy’s book Time, which discusses many of the works he created during the filming of Rivers and Tides. Here’s a quote I liked:

I often see works — a balanced column of rocks, stacked icicles– looking stronger with each piece that is added, but also know that each addition takes it closer to collapse. Some of my most memorable works have been made in this way, and some of my worst failures could have produced some great pieces. Beauty does not avoid difficulty but hovers dangerously above it — like walking on thin ice.

3 thoughts on “Rivers and Tides

  1. I did the same. Saw the documentary, went and bought the book Time – from a shelf containing several other titles. I want to make a flagstone egg, and my son is a stonemason with access to little pieces, fun. Did make an “ode to Andy.” Cut a dozen Tamarisk branches 8′ tall, stuck ’em in a terra cotta pot of dirt in the house, glued downy feathers on the ends of some, look like prayer flags flying in the wind. (I’ve always thought that when I see bird feathers caught on the wild grasses growing around. My favorite natural artwork-such a blessing.) Love your blog. Me too, living small in a valley outside Santa Fe, N.M., built my own pumicecrete house, solar, gardens, have a seed bank of indian corn, make figurines-angels and “women of the world” with the husks, sell at farmer’s market, lived off the grid for 27 years, raised the kids with no plumbing, “chop wood, carry water” – great life. Loving 110 volts now, the computer is my new kid. Bless your heart – healing happens. Thanks for sharing your courage. Love Barbara

  2. You might enjoy the following article too –


    Here’s a quote from the article “Andy Goldsworthy’s work is entwined with the materials, rhythms and processes of the natural world”

    If you’ve not come across the magazine I would recommend a peak on line at least.

    Seed catalogues are being perused with relich here too, I’m a runner bean fan myself blus broad beans and corgettes, dis rather well with tomatoes last year after nuturing them on cottage window cill first and then into plastic shelter between dusk and dawn and on cold days – we really don’t get enough sun here in Wales for outside growing of toms. Spiniche?, I eat it not spell it:0) and some asian vegetables are a thought this year but still exploring.

  3. Sit it out if that’s what is needed – that’s what dogs adn Law and Order are for, right? One day we went down to a place called the “flats” while Goldsworthy was working in Ithaca, and found one of his pieces – so out of place but so “fitting” you know? It was a tower of rocks with the tiniest of pebbles sitting on top, held together with mud from the bank next to it. Wow.

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