Andy Goldsworthy

Damp patch / river water on stones / Ilkley, Yorkshire / April 1981


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Not on display
Andy Goldsworthy born 1956
3 photographs, gelatin silver print on paper
Image, each: 192 x 253 mm
Purchased with assistance from the American Patrons of Tate courtesy of If Hummingbird Foundation Inc, Jeanne and Mickey Klein, Mr. and Mrs Joel Mallin and an anonymous donor 2011


Damp patch / river water on stones / Ilkley, Yorkshire / April 1981 1981 consists of three black and white photographs, each showing a close-up of some pebbles, displayed side by side in a single frame. In the first there is a perfectly delineated, darker circular patch where the stones have been dampened. In the second the contrast between the darker, wet pebbles and the lighter, dry ones is slightly diminished as the pebbles dry out a little. In the third and final photograph there is no longer any evidence of the dampness. Typically, the title of the work describes the object, location and date of the artist’s intervention.

Often categorised as a ‘land artist’, Goldsworthy’s work is frequently linked with that of Richard Long (born 1945) and Hamish Fulton (born 1946) in that it directly engages with the natural landscape. Goldsworthy’s practice encompasses gallery-based sculptures and installations using stone, wood and other natural materials, as well as permanent constructions made outside in the landscape – including earthworks and pieces consisting of dry stone walls – and more ephemeral constructions made using ice, leaves, flower petals, sticks and rocks. Although these are by their nature impermanent, they are documented in the form of photographs and texts.

Goldsworthy has written about the significance of photography in his work, most notably in the survey of his career Hand to Earth, published in 2004:

Taking the photograph is not a casual act. It is very demanding and a balance is kept in which documentation does not interrupt the making. Each work grows, stays, 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 expressed in the image. Process and decay are implicit in that moment. A drawing or painting would be too defined. The photographs leave the reason and spirit of the work outside.
(Goldsworthy 2004, p.9.)

Further reading
Andy Goldsworthy, Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture 1976–1990, London 2004.

Helen Delaney
May 2010

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