This semester I’m taking my first english class since my senior year of high school. Now, all I remember from that class was being miserable, coming in late, getting 67s on everything because I was awful at analyzing poetry (or rather, just didn’t believe in it) and writing essays on which pneumonic devices were used in said poem. Needless to say, I was kind of dreading LA 108: Composition for the Artist. But surprisingly enough, I’ve really grown to like it. Maybe it’s because that’s the one class I’m not currently behind in. Maybe it’s because there are students who are not all fashion majors to talk to. We all usually wind up sharing stories when my teacher gets distracted from lecture.
I like my teacher as well, and I have to say she is teaching me something I don’t think I ever properly learned. There are many kinds of writing: narrative, journalism, whatever have you. And for the first time, instead of bouncing around from teacher to teacher and having them each tell me how to write differently…I’ve realized that these two types of writing can actually stay separate and each be taught a different way. Journalism is when you use your soulless, boring voice and narratives are the ones that allow you to say whatever you want. I spent all of grade school trying to figure out how to combine the two, and out came essays that sounded nothing like me. I knew I could do better.
Having just finished our “Artist’s Autobiography”, we are now moving into our “Process Analysis Essay”, for which we write about and analyze a process that is art-related. So to give us ideas and help us start thinking about our rough drafts, we’ve watched a few videos about how things are made and whatnot. But today we watched a video about British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.
Bright sunny morning, rozen snow, cut slab, scraped snow away with a stick, just short of breaking through.
Izumi-Mura, Japan. 19 December 1987
“For me looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. Place is found by walking, direction determined by weather and season. I take the opportunity each day offers: if it is snowing, I work in snow, at leaf-fall it will be leaves; a blown over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.
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. I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it, these processes continue.
The energy and space around a material are as important as the energy and the space within. The weather—rain, sun, snow, hail, calm—is that external space made visible. When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it. It is not independent of its surroundings and the way it sits tells how it came to be there. In an effort to understand why that rock is there and where it is going, I must work with it in the area in which I found it.
I have become aware of raw nature is in a state of change and how that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Often I can only follow a train of thought while a particular weather condition persists. When a change comes, the idea must alter or it will, and often does, fail. I am sometimes left stranded by a change in the weather with half-understood feelings that have to travel with me until conditions are right for them to appear. All forms are to be found in nature, and there are many qualities within any material. By exploring them I hope to understand the whole. My work needs to include the loose and disordered within the nature of material as well as the tight and regular.
At its most successful, my ‘touch’ looks into the heart of nature; most days I don’t even get close. These things are all part of the transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient—only in this way can the cycle remain unbroken and the process complete. I cannot explain the importance to me of being part of the place, its seasons and changes. Fourteen years ago I made a line of stones in Morecambe Bay. It is still there, buried under the sand, unseen. All my work still exists in some form.
My approach to photograph is kept simple, almost routine. All work, good and bad, is documented. I use standard film, a standard lens and no filters. Each work grows, strays, decays—integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is an intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expresses in the image. Process and decay are implicit.”
I dont’ know why this post is indenting every paragraph. Anyway, call me a hippie, but I love his appreciation of nature. I often think about how much paper and fabric I waste going through my classes. Almost everything he creates can be destroyed and taken back to where it came from. Some works take him 4 or 5 attempts. And I’m not sure that the motto of life could be any clearer: you get knocked down, you get up again. Like the Chumbawamba song.