Andy Goldsworthy (British, b.1956) is a sculptor and photographer whose site-specific artworks directly engage with the environment, incorporating natural specimens and found objects into semi-permanent sculptures, which are then extensively documented in photographs. Goldsworthy grew up in West Yorkshire, and worked as a farm laborer from an early age, an experience that allowed him to develop an intense awareness of his surroundings and an appreciation for the ephemeral qualities of landscape. He studied Fine Art at Bradford School of Art in his hometown, and at Preston Polytechnic in Preston, Lancashire. While in school, he became familiar with other British artists following a similar environmental doctrine, including Richard Long (British, b.1945) and Hamish Fulton (British, b.1945).
Although the physical survival of his sculptures is rarely ensured, Goldsworthy photographs his sites before, during, and after he has created his structures within the landscape, allowing these photographs to serve as permanent records of each piece. While most of Goldsworthy’s well-known works are created outdoors in remote locations that hold a personal significance to the artist, some of his pieces have been shown in galleries, and his reputation as a progressive and environmentally conscious artist has made him a popular candidate for public commissions. With several books published documenting his process, Goldsworthy’s projects have reached an even larger audience, making him an artist of international repute. Goldsworthy has worked across America, Europe, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the North Pole, and has permanently resided in Scotland since the early 1980s. In 2001, Thomas Riedelsheimer published a documentary film Rivers and Tides, based on the life and work of Goldsworthy.