Andy Goldsworthy and Cairns

10 January 2012


Geo I, January 2012;

Geode I, January 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2012

Geo II, January 2012;

Geode II, January 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2012

Geode III, January 2012;

Geode III, January 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2012

Geode IV, January 2012;

Geode IV, January 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2012

During one of numerous trips to Southern California I purchased a pair of geode bookends. A geode is found in volcanic ash beds, and are like a box of cracker jacks. You never know what will be inside when you open them. A whole geode is nondescript. But carefully halve it, and it is a marvel of (usually quartz) crystals. Often they are colorful, but these are grey, brown and clear crystal, lending to conversion to black-and-white. Let me know what you think.


Winter is settling into the Mid-Atlantic, and try as I might I’m still a warm-weather kind of gal. So why not do something to distract me, and be a memorable pathway toward springtime gardening. When the temps plummet I need more than spent flowers and other chores to take me into my gardens. My inspiration is Andy Goldsworthy–the master artist of the ethereal, the inventive, the natural.

I long to see more of Goldsworthy’s creations. My only in-person sighting was at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art (see my post from 24 March 2011 titled “Andy Goldsworthy’s Roof”). His earthworks are narratives that tell nature’s story without disrupting her. He’s had a profound effect upon the art world and people’s perception of nature. And that’s a stellar contribution to the planet’s state of being.

To demonstrate how enamored I am with his art, I’ve written two additional posts with information about him (see 24 June 2011 titled “A Confluence in Art: Nature Inspiring Artists” and 29 September 2011 titled “Homage to Goldsworthy Inspired by Autumn’s Arrival”). His artistic legacy includes cairns that he built throughout the world. (A cairn is a pile of stone used as a marker and Scottish in origin.)

Passage, Three Cairns, 2003, by Andy Goldsworthy

Passage, Three Cairns, 2003, by Andy Goldsworthy

Stone has been a resident of my gardens for all the years of my tinkering. My mission for the short-term will be to gather flat pieces of stone and build my own cairn. I may have to haul some more pieces onto my property, but that will add to the fun and joy of the project.

Meanwhile I am viewing (for the umpteenth time) the film about Goldsworthy called “Rivers and Tides,” and pulling ideas from my imagination. The subtitle of this video is “Working with Time,” which is the essence of stone as a perennial material–it has arrived through eons of weathering.

So stay tuned for the results of my efforts to create my own cairn. It will be a tribute to the majesty of stone, and its message of nature’s longevity and quintessential power to survive.

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6 Responses to Andy Goldsworthy and Cairns

  1. Love your Crackerjack comment, Sally. 🙂 I’m anxious to see what sort of cairn you come up with. I love them. Just something so primal about showing us the way. 🙂

  2. Gracie says:

    Very nice, Sally. I like how you transformed them into abstract photos. At first I thought they were ice that formed after a deep freeze.

    • Thanks Gracie–funny you mentioned ice–I am thinking of freezing objects in water and seeing the effects on them as they melt. I guess winter pushes our neurons in new ways for photo opportunities. Talk to you soon, Sally

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