Andy Goldsworthy

Wet sand / windy / Morecombe Bay / October 1976


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Not on display
Andy Goldsworthy born 1956
2 photographs, gelatin silver print on paper
Support, each: 490 x 327 mm
Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong 2011
On long term loan


Wet sand / windy / Morecombe Bay / October 1976 1976 consists of two black and white photographs of a snaking line of rocks placed in the shallow waters of Morecambe Bay on the Lancashire coast. It was made while Goldsworthy was still a student at Preston Polytechnic. Goldsworthy had been enormously impressed on seeing a photograph of Robert Smithson’s (1938–1973) land work Spiral Jetty 1970, and he subsequently began to experiment with using water in his own work. The combination of light and the reflective qualities of water would play an increasingly important part in his practice. 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 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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