General Information about Rivers and Tides: Andy G oldsworthy Working with Time 

Proposal for an uncompleted article on Rivers and Tides

Notes taken during a second viewing, March 31, 2003 

Steven Marx, Cal Poly University


camera work

natural sounds and music

goldsworthy’s commentary

my observations



energy flowing through the landscape in me; growth, time, change, flow


serpentine line across leaves, wind blows it away; shaky chain of leaves in water

credit: filmed by Thomas Reidelsheimer

water flowing

working with time; spectrum of lives in river; two influences: sea and river.  Time and tide; Time and river

the serpentine line--connecting everything, suddenly switching direction, moving forward yet repeating --expresses the repetitive yet ever-changing aspects of time, rivers and tides and symbolizes the structure of the film—distinct sections bordered by jump cuts and stitched by overlapping visual and thematic connections.

river meanders from airplane; finger drawing them on frost, then on pad in airplane


Feels dislocated, uprooted, when traveling;  i’m a stranger; out of touch


walking over rocks sillouetted against pink water of dawn,  sea and distant rocks and shores




sculpting with pieces of icicle; fingertips bare and red with cold; gloved palms; hands mauled and scarred; biting bits off icicles to make them fit into serpentine shape; gluing them with water from a bowl; sunrise light caught in serpentine icicle; as suns warms it melts and destroys it

beach and river; river meets tide.

camera moves across landscape and then brings feature into view as surprise—revelation or illumination.

sea sound merging with river sound

cold—need to use bare hands to make contact and manipulate with care; good art keeps you warm;  effort to make something that looks effortless; didnt expect  the illumination of the icicle; what brings the work to life will cause its death--sunlight


cones: 1. the driftwood cone   standing inside and assembling—white driftwood against black rocks and water.  spectator watching and  ag crawls out from hole in bottom of cone.  The whirlpool created as the tide comes in; round motion like that of the cone.

dissolution of the constructed cone-cairn:

ag’s face transforming as he watches the dissolution of the cone.  as it is floated away,  it’s reduced to two dimensions on surface of water, the hole in the center, a recurrent image, becoming more distinct, the pieces of driftwood on the margins losing connection with the form and turning brown from soaking in water.  Suddenly the flat disc of remaining pieces begins to rotate around its center , turned by the river

camera cranes  up as tide flows in, to capture the circular motions within motions

dialogue with spectator—living there all his life, remembering the ancient past—the salmon hole where fish so thick they touched each other—do you need any help?

music like bell tolling as the tide flows in and the inevitable destruction of the cone; also sound of suction, suggesting dissolution. Music expressing mournful release and turning=death

taken off into another world...not at all like destruction...movement is part of cycle of feel as if you had touched the heart of the place...seeing something you had never seen before but you were blind to it...moments I live for...inexpressible

time and tide—the old man recollecting his boyhood and the lost salmon run.  asking what’s going to happen to the cone?  will it stay in tact...future.  ag says no—prediction of future

reminiscent of Donne’s meditation—no man is an island

“wheels  within wheels”—Ezekiel’s vision

polarities are alienation and uprootedness vs. being in touch with the place, the heart of the place

cone 2.  building the stone on the shore; trial and error; holding big stone in place and asking for help to weigh it down. 


tells photograpoher to leave camera and gather stones

this section driven by time—time to complete it bounded by the awareness of the incoming tide; four tries racing the clock are defeated;   time coming up behind; relentlessness of time; beach as teacher;   theme of risk—contrasting indoors at art college, where theings are predictable with working outside where control is relinquished;  collapses fourth time; reflection on trial and error; growth of understanding stone with each failure

 the presence of the rocks and cliffs in the distance as constant throughout these sequences

trial and error is a function of time

other cones and cairns –in museums, along roads—made of ice along river with flowing and melting ice

stone cone finally finished; sequence of being covered and uncovered by rising and falling  tide.  Sun rising and setting. This alternates  with redrock cone covered and uncovered by growing bracken

bracken.  Big ox the color of stone comes into the picture and rubs against cone


cones as fertility—connection with seeds-- and as guardians

work given to the sea as gift—sea has made more of it than I ever could have hoped—like those things that happen in life that cause upheavels  and shock.

cone disappeared but still there; going away and coming back

importance of home place—in scotland: the house and the village

meditations on symbols, whose meanings keep growing

working with bracken—redbrown stalks melding into black ; arrangement  of them to create  circular black hole


tough, aggressive material; bleeding hands;  uses knife on them, unlike with most others; plant is toxic—especially spores.  darker  side of landscape...not pastoral and pretty.  Black appearance of bottoms of bracken fronds results from energy exchange with earth; appearing charred;


family; artist’s house and village; kids playing and eating.  one rudding around hidden under  a blanket ; baby floppy eared rabbit, dog barking.  Many roomed studio—work space highly organized; warm light created by wood panelling; soccer game, visiting neighbor


children, conversation with wife, birds and traffic

slide collection: photography is way I talk about sculpture, that I understand  what I’ve done.

old woman: you see only births, I see only deaths

importance of being rooted ; home in village; long enough to notice change.  four or five years not enough


storm starts; lying like dead on ground ; rain on face;  leaving figure as dry pavement.  storm ends with rainbow over landscape


rainbow music


gathering dandelions  in town, moving to river in flood, picking stems seen from behind; yellow pools and potholes.

green lines, serpentine shapes: grass string threaded through leaves and trees


river of stone, water and wind—river of growth that flows through trees and land


tree and sheep; shepherd; sheep giving birth and nursing lambs; inside stone wall enclosures;  river of sheep; woolwall; wool in wind, covering rock


get beyond  pastoral surface: sheep are powerful: brutal to grass; rip and tear; impact on landscape—made it treeless and barren; responsible for social and political upheavals; the enclosures


walls: making rough walls—arches and round holes-- in sheep pasture


hanging bracken sculpture with hole demolished by wind; frustration


land doesnt need me, I need it; work roots me. taking work to edge of its collapse


holes in tree roots; death and life—womb-tomb; going through bright red-yellow circle of leaves into black hole


loud music as camera moves into black hole

thoughts on holes—dying and coming into life; black as absence


hole to sky; cone on branch


green leaf snake in water--  shape and movement:  undulating, end over  end, flipping over,  rising and sinking, stopping and starting


raising American flag; sitting in luncheonette; wall building at Storm King, wall surrounding trees, winding across landscape; stopping at freeway;  going into and out of river—craning to aerial view of long wall


sounds of hammer and stone

wallers dont want him touching rocks, just designing course;  reconstituted from walls made by early settlers, who were wallers in Europe.  Wall is here in sympathy with the place it travels; river of stone


blood drips on rock, actually iron rich pulverized rock; red river, line of red maple trees

making red pigment, crushing rock and mixing with water


both blood and rock are red because of high iron content.  color of energy and violence; finding stones with red pigment hidden under other rocks, underneath skin of earth.

instant in cycle of stone; stone as liquid


red  clay on interior wall in Digne France; hands and hair involved in process; serpentine pattern of cracks emerges as clay dries

rough cut

traffic noise transition

hair from hairdresser, uniting human with mineral in creation; architectural geology.  transformations in drying, bringing out distinct forms and then eradicating them


red clay balls thrown into water, dissolving shape and staining water and making serpentine shapes; dry red clay dust thrown into the air, combining with wind and sunlight


snow in air and light


final credits: tide coming in and dissolving serpentine shape  in sand