Saturday, January 12, 2008


An image of a work created in nature by artist Andy Goldsworthy. It's simply leaves surrounding a hole, but the effect is stunning.

Reading the Pigtown*Design blog this morning and there's a post about the World Beach Project. It encourages people to create a design on the beach and to upload images of their work to the website. The aim is to encourage man to leave his creative mark upon the earth.

It got me thinking about the work of British artist Andy Goldsworthy. He is an environmental artist, creating earthworks and installations, mostly around his farm in Scotland. Some works are ephemeral, like the one created above. As soon as a stiff wind blows, the leaves are gone.

Others are more enduring sculptures, like the stone wall that he created over a two-year period for the Storm King Art Center in New York. It's 2,278 feet long and winds among the trees.

There are several stone walls near my home in Baltimore that are similar to the ones that Goldsworthy built. Some of them date back to about 1840. Others have been created more recently by homeowners looking to emulate the stonework of those mill workers who settled this area 200 years ago and built their homes and fences out of ballast rock carried in ships from England.

There is something about a stone wall that people are drawn to. The walls that crisscross the New England countryside are actually disappearing, the victim of theft or of landowners selling the coveted rocks to others for decorative purposes.

In Ireland, on the island of Inishmore in the Bay of Galway, the landscape is like one giant Earthwork created over hundreds of years by the farming families who inhabit the place. They used stonewalls to distinguish property lines, and over time, as plots were divided among children, the island became a patchwork quilt of green pasture and gray rock. Here are pictures I took on the island in 2001.

Above: The coastline of Inishmore. In the far distance you can see the remnants of a stone wall built hundreds of years ago when a fort existed on high ground to keep a watch on the waters and to protect the Aran Islands from potential invaders.

Below: Farmland on the East side of the island. Keep an eye on the horse...