Andy Goldsworthy artwork

Andy Goldsworthy Part One

Our first project is based on the work of Andy Goldsworthy. For those of you that don’t know his work you are in for a real treat, he’s one of my absolute favourites. Goldsworthy is a contemporary British artist and is only seven years older than me! (So still very young obviously!)

Resources you will need to complete this activity:

  • 1. Access to the outdoors (...and plants and leaves. Please stick to leaves or flowers. We will be doing a project with other materials next)
  • 2. A camera (a phone camera is great for this)
  • 3. Needles and thread (if possible, not essential. If you don’t have needles and thread a stapler, sticky tape or even glue would be useful)
  • 4. Internet access
  • 5. A printer [if possible, not essential]

Note to parents; please remember that for some children studying the written elements of art makes it inaccessible and a drag. If this is the case with your children then please skip to the relevant activities, or, better still, do it for them and then tell them what you have learnt, or do it with them, with you doing the reading and then just talking about what you have found out. All art activities are best executed without any time pressures. A work is complete when you are completely satisfied with the result. This is not always practical I know, but try to allow the student as much time as they need on each activity. These should be carried out over several days. You can incorporate other aspects of learning into the activities eg identification of plants, life cycles etc.

Activity 1: Preparation (about 15m)

When talking about art sometimes people use unusual vocabulary. Find out what these words mean before you start your research;

  • 1. Ephemeral
  • 2. Installation (take care this means something different when referring to art than other things)
  • 3. Integral

Activity 2: Research the work of Andy Goldsworthy (about 30m-1h)

Use a search engine to look at Goldsworthy’s work. Try to imagine these as real things you might find along a woodland walk or a mountain path. Some of my favourites are his Magical Land series, Screen, Ephemeral and I just love Refuges d’Art. Sometimes when you read the information about the art it helps you like it even more, but that’s up to you. Which do you like best? Why do you think you like these best? Remember recognising what you love in other work helps you know what you would like to achieve in your own work.

Activity 3: Make a poster (about 30m-1h)

Copy and paste some of Goldsworthy’s images into a document. Think about layout and spaces between images. You decide whether you want to add text (like his name or a brief biography or the names of the art work). You can add some of your own drawing to the poster too. This can be cad if you have it or by hand, you can even use collage adding some real leaves. This is the start of mine;

Andy Goldsworthy poster

Activity 4: Main activity - Art from Nature (3-4h)

Like most artists, Andy Goldsworthy would not make his installations on the day he first has the idea. He would spend quite some time [days or even years] thinking about a project he wants to do. When he has a firm idea he would then start planning and maybe even collecting materials. Things for you to think about: Where will I site my installation? What materials will I use? Start noticing things around you in the garden or on your walks; what would work well and is easily available? How will I fix my materials? How will I record my work?

Remember, you are not trying to make an Andy Goldsworthy. You are the artist. Make this work from your own ideas.

Preparation activity (1-2h)

Andy Goldsworthy’s work looks like it is spontaneous but to get that effect he must be really well prepared. Try a few sample arrangements, practice joining your leaves or flowers; what works best? [Try sticky tape, stitching and stapling. Even glue might work if you have it.]. Take photos of you practices, show the people you are living with or send photos to other people you know who are good at art. Listen to their opinions and think about changes that might be beneficial.

Creating the final piece (about 2h)

Be sure about the shape and size you would like your work to be before you start, but be prepared to change your ideas if something beautiful starts to emerge that you hadn’t expected. Work in the situation you would like your final work to be. Think about this carefully, the location massively affects the outcome in Goldsworthy’s work. And most important of all; stop every few minutes. Step back. Check what it looks like from other angles. Change it if necessary. Take photos as you go along. Maybe you can make a film or a stop motion animation of the process. Have fun!

Preparation for next lesson; our next creation will be using stones. Please start to collect stones either in your garden or on your daily walks.

Next lesson: Andy Goldsworthy Part Two