Giveaway winner + Andy Goldsworthy’s leaves

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

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The $50 off a print at Lux Archive goes to Kate, who wrote:

I live in Canmore Alberta, a mountain town situated in the Bow Valley. Around these parts fall includes the turning of the larch trees, a unique coniferous tree that loses its needles ever year. The turning of the larches motivates hundreds of people to venture into the rocky mountains to witness these glorious pillars of light. So much so that Parks Canada had to close the road to Moraine Lake at the base of Larch Valley, as the park reached capacity. It is like an ecological pilgrimage.

This year, which I am sure people exclaim every year, the larches are particularly magical. I don’t know if it is due to the above average weather we have been having or what, but it seems all the larches turned golden yellow at exactly the same time. It truly is wondrous to see such natural coordination, a sight that really lifts the spirit and induces dropped jaws in awe.

Thanks, Kate, for that beautiful image! It made me think about the energy and synchrony of nature, to burst into beautiful color all at the same moment, to create such a spectacle. That in turn made me think of an artist who works with the energies of nature to create arresting, but similarly evanescent, beauty.

Andy Goldsworthy has been a favorite of mine since I discovered his winding wall up at Storm King. There is a documentary about him, Rivers and Tides,  that I highly recommend. (I watch it at least once a year, usually at moments when I’m feeling creatively worn out.) In the film, you get to see him in the process of making these works, how he learns from the materials and adjusts to them. It is all about energy for him, harnessing the energies of his materials, their color and form and heat to create something that is perfect, but only for a few moments. I think this is what I resonate to most about his work — that it is a monument to the idea that what really matters in life is to go out every day and try to make something significant. So many people strive to make something lasting, something that will outlive them. So many people toil for posterity. But Goldsworthy creates for the now, for the exact moment he is in, and creates the most perfect thing for that moment. It doesn’t matter that it’s not lasting. Beauty, not durability, is the measure of success.

And this of course is the nature of joy: fleeting, in the moment, significant, but not permanent.

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I’ve been reading a lot of poetry lately, and I find his pieces have a kind of poetry to them. They are succinct yet lyrical, and take their meaning as much from their context as from their content. Goldsworthy’s notes likewise have a poetic quality, as he writes about the piece above, entitled Elder leaf patch / edge made by finding leaves the same size / tearing one in two / spitting underneath and pressing flat on to another:

Diary: 10th Oct

Helbeck Woods
Wet earth but no longer raining
fairly calm to begin with but
now very windy – blew work


elder purple patch
the colour of the stain left
by sycamore leaves.

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Images: Most from the Andy Goldworthy Digital Catalogue. A treasure trove!

October 7th, 2012


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    Discussion (4 Comments)

  1. Mary Lou Landry on October 10, 2012

    I love Goldworthy’s work. I feel totally lost for words when I look at his work. His pieces hit me on a visceral level and I feel a sort of tearful joy welling up. I also think it is interesting that his work was originally rejected as it wasn’t real art. Thanks for posting about him. He’s definitely belong on a joy blog!

  2. Ingrid on October 11, 2012

    I feel that same visceral reaction with Andy Goldsworthy’s work. It is a subtle, quiet joy. Glad to find a fellow admirer, Mary Lou!

  3. Annette Mills on October 12, 2012

    I like your comment about the nature of joy, Ingrid. I’d like to add something. The photos of Andy’s work mean that his in the moment joy can resonate, even if in a subdued way, across time and space. Which for me is also an aspect of joy – that it brings hope for future resonance across future time and future space.

  4. Chelsea on October 12, 2012

    Amazing work! And I love that an Albertan won the contest! As a native Albertan, I feel so indescribably proud of the landscape that we inhabit! I can’t help but feel so lucky to share the beauty of Canada with all the people from around the world who come to here to visit and live. Thanks for the sharing the inspiring work of Andy Goldsworthy!


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