Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy (born 26 July 1956) is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist living in Scotland who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. His art involves the use of natural and found objects, to create both temporary and permanent sculptures which draw out the character of their environment.


The son of F. Allin Goldsworthy (1929–2001), former professor of applied mathematics at the University of Leeds, Andy Goldsworthy was born on 26 July 1956 in Cheshire and grew up on the Harrogate side of Leeds, West Yorkshire, in a house edging the green belt. From the age of 13 he worked on farms as a labourer. He has likened the repetitive quality of farm tasks to the routine of making sculpture: "A lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it."

He studied fine art at Bradford College of Art (1974–1975) and at the Preston Polytechnic (1975–1978) (now the University of Central Lancashire) in Preston, Lancashire, receiving his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from the latter.

After leaving college, Goldsworthy lived in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. In 1985 he moved to Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and a year later to Penpont. It has been said that his gradual drift northwards was "due to a way of life over which he did not have complete control", but that contributing factors were opportunities and desires to work in these areas and "reasons of economy".

In 1993 he was conferred an honorary degree by the University of Bradford. He is currently an A.D. White Professor-At-Large at Cornell University.

He is the subject of a 2001 documentary feature film Rivers and Tides, directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer.

Artistic style

The materials used in Andy Goldsworthy's art often include brightly-coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. He has been quoted as saying, "I think it's incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals. But I have to: I can't edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole." Goldsworthy is generally considered the founder of modern rock balancing. For his ephemeral works, Goldsworthy often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials; however, for his permanent sculptures like "Roof", "Stone River" and "Three Cairns", "Moonlit Path" (Petworth, West Sussex, 2002) and "Chalk Stones" in the South Downs, near West Dean, West Sussex he has also employed the use of machine tools. To create "Roof", Goldsworthy worked with his assistant and five British dry-stone wallers, who were used to make sure the structure could withstand time and nature.

Photography plays a crucial role in his art due to its often ephemeral and transient state. According to Goldsworthy, "Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its heights, 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.

Goldsworthy produced a commissioned work for the entry courtyard of San Francisco's De Young Museum called "Drawn Stone", which echoes San Francisco's frequent earthquakes and their effects. His installation included a giant crack in the pavement that broke off into smaller cracks, and broken limestone, which could be used for benches. The smaller cracks were made with a hammer adding unpredictability to the work as he created it.


  • 1979 – North West Arts Award
  • 1980 – Yorkshire Arts Award
  • 1981 – Northern Arts Award
  • 1982 – Northern Arts Award
  • 1986 – Northern Arts Bursary
  • 1987 – Scottish Arts Council Award
  • 1989 – Northern Electricity Arts Award
  • 2000 – Appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)


  • (1985). Rain, Sun, Snow, Hail, Mist, Calm : Photoworks by Andy Goldsworthy. Leeds: Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture.
  • (1988). Parkland. [Yorkshire]: Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • (1989). Touching North. London: Fabian Carlsson.
  • (1989). Leaves. London: Common Ground.
  • (1990). Andy Goldsworthy. London: Viking. Republished as
  • (1992). Ice and Snow Drawings : 1990–1992. Edinburgh: FruitMarket Gallery.
  • Goldsworthy, Andy; Terry Friedman (1993). Hand to Earth : Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, 1976–1990. New York, N.Y.: H.N. Abrams.
  • (1994). Stone. London: Viking.
  • (1995). Black Stones, Red Pools : Dumfriesshire Winter 1994–5. London: Pro Arte Foundation in association with Michael Hue-Williams Fine Art Ltd. & Galerie Lelong, N.Y.
  • Goldsworthy, Andy; Steve Chettle; Paul Nesbitt & Andrew Humphries (1996). Sheepfolds. London: Michael Hue-Williams Fine Art Ltd.
  • (1996). Wood. London: Viking.
  • Goldsworthy, Andy; David Craig (1999). Arch. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • (2000). Time. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Goldsworthy, Andy; Jerry L. Thompson & Storm King Art Center (2000). Wall at Storm King. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • (2001). Midsummer Snowballs. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • (2002). Andy Goldsworthy : Refuges D'Art. Lyon; Digne, France: Editions Artha; Musée départemental de Digne.
  • (2004). Passage. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • (2007). Enclosure. London: Thames & Hudson.

Major exhibitions and installations

Image Dates Title Location
1996–2003 Sheepfolds Cumbria, England, UK
22 May –
15 November 2000
Andy Goldsworthy at Storm King Art Center
(featuring the installation Storm King Wall)
Storm King Art Center

Mountainville, Cornwall, New York, U.S.

August 2001 Stone River Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University

Stanford, California, U.S.

2002 Andy Goldsworthy Arch at Goodwood
Cass Sculpture Foundation

Goodwood, West Sussex, England, UK

2002 Chalk Stones Trail South Downs near West Dean, West Sussex
4 May –
31 October 2004
Andy Goldsworthy on the Roof
(featuring the installation Stone Houses)
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City, New York, U.S.

2005 Andy Goldsworthy: Early Works
A national touring exhibition from the Haywood Gallery
England, United Kingdom
2005 Drawn Stone M. H. de Young Memorial Museum

San Francisco, California, U.S.

22 January –
15 May 2005
The Andy Goldsworthy Project
(including the installation Roof)
National Gallery of Art

National Mall, Washington, D.C., U.S.

2006 Red sandstone wall at the Doerr-Hosier Center Aspen Institute

Aspen, Colorado, U.S.

31 March 2007 –
6 January 2008
Andy Goldsworthy Yorkshire Sculpture Park

West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, UK

Personal life

In 1982, Goldsworthy married Judith Gregson. They had four children and settled in the village of Penpont in the region of Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfriesshire, in southwest Scotland. He now lives there with his partner, Tina Fiske, an art historian whom he met when she came to work with him a few years after he separated from his wife.


  • "I find some of my new works disturbing, just as I find nature as a whole disturbing. The landscape is often perceived as pastoral, pretty, beautiful – something to be enjoyed as a backdrop to your weekend before going back to the nitty-gritty of urban life. But anybody who works the land knows it's not like that. Nature can be harsh – difficult and brutal, as well as beautiful. You couldn't walk five minutes from here without coming across something that is dead or decaying."
  • "One of the beauties of art is that it reflects an artist's entire life. What I've learned over the past 30 years is really beginning to inform what I make. I hope that process continues until I die."

See also



Further reading



  • Malpas, William (1995). Andy Goldsworthy: Touching Nature. Kidderminster: Crescent Moon.
  • Malpas, William (1998). The Art of Andy Goldsworthy. Kidderminster: Crescent Moon.
  • Malpas, William (2003). Andy Goldsworthy in Close-Up. Maidstone, Kent: Crescent Moon.
  • Malpas, William (2008). Andy Goldsworthy: Pocket Guide. Maidstone, Kent: Crescent Moon.

External links



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