Andy Goldsworthy

The Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework allows teachers to assist students in exploring artwork, through developing an understanding of the role of the artist, artwork, subject matter and audience. Teachers need to decide which element of the conceptual framework will be the focus at the beginning of the lesson. Once a starting point has been selected the teacher can guide their students in exploring the connections and relationships that are evident between each element. In the case of Andy Goldsworthy special attention should be given to exploring the relationship been the Artist and the subject matter.

In this instance we will be exploring Andy Goldsworthy’s “Stone House”. This piece is one of two pieces that Goldsworthy created in 1997 for Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park in Melbourne.

The Artist

The artist is Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy is a British sculptor who studied at Bradford College of Art (1974 - 1975) and Preston Polytechnic (1975 - 1978). He is a site specific ephemeral sculptor who expresses his love of nature through the use of sustainable site specific materials. Once a sculpture is complete Goldsworthy photographs it and leaves it to remain in the area from which it was sourced so it can continue on the journey it was on.

The Artwork

The artwork is named “Stone House” it was constructed by Goldsworthy in 1997. The artwork is located on Herring Island in South Yarra, Melbourne. The Stone House is made of Dunkeld Sandstone with a clay coloured boulder in the centre. The boulder is said to express Goldsworthy’s feeling of the importance of discovery and concealment of the Island.

The sandstone wall is made up of earthy grey brown tones and the boulder in the centre has been covered with rust coloured clay to emphasise the contrast in colours and to assist in drawing the eye to the boulder.

The Audience

The intended audience of this piece would be visitors to Herring Island. This is in contrast to the majority of Goldsworthy’s pieces which are photographed. In this case the photographs make up the exhibitions and also become the art, hence, visitors to the gallery would also become the audience. Therefore, it could be argued that the intended audience for a lot of Goldsworthy’s site specific sculptures is Goldsworthy himself.

Upon initial viewing of the Stone House the audience are able to recognise the similarities between the style of the construction and that of other Goldsworthy pieces. The use of the slate and sandstone placed together in an almost tiled arrangement to form a structure can be seen in a number of Goldsworthy’s pieces. Upon closer viewing of Stone House, the audience become aware of the boulder hidden within the wall and are drawn into exploring its concealment.

The Subject Matter

Goldsworthy’s art is focused on the natural environment in which he is in. As he works outdoors using the natural materials that are available to him, the focus and materials will vary dramatically throughout the year. For example, in winter Goldsworthy will use snow, ice and rocks as his main materials, yet, in autumn materials such as leaves, twigs and trees will be used. These materials will become the main focus of the art and therefore, the subject matter. As Goldsworthy is a largely site specific sculptor the subject matter of his art is also influenced heavily by the environment in which he is in at the time. Therefore, if he is in a coastal area he may be more influenced by the materials found in the area, such as, sand, stone and water.