Alex Wright

Rivers and tides

July 1, 2003

Rivers and Tides, Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy works art out of rocks, twigs, leaves, even sheep's wool, to create ambitious physical structures - all of which share a common trait: they are destined to dissolve back into the landscape.

Like sand mandalas or Japanese ikebana, Goldsworthy's pieces are more than just studies in physical form; they are living meditations on impermance and the mutability of nature.

In Goldsworthy's world, stone turns to liquid, leaves become fabric, vines act like threads, ice is bathed in light ("the power that brings it to life is also the power that destroys it"). Rivers are more than just bodies of water: they are vessels of soil, rocks, trees, silt, water and wind.

The best of Goldsworthy's work seems to evoke a kind of transcendent annihilation. "I think we misread the landscape when we think of it as pastoral and pretty," he says. "There's a darker side to it."

Or, like the Buddha said: "Form is emptiness, emptiness also is form."

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