Andy Goldsworthy leavesWe rented Andy Goldsworthy’s Rivers and Tides this weekend, having missed it when it was in theatres a few years back. I was immediately and deeply moved by what unfolded on the screen as I watched.

Here’s a short excerpt on Youtube:

Goldsworthy is an artist who works in and with natural environments. He assembles things he finds in a place – stones, leaves, branches, blocks of ice – virtually anything – into sculptures that have a strangely organic quality to them. The works are often ephemeral; the forces of nature melt, scatter, or cover them.

Goldsworthy is a soft-spoken Scot with an innate sensitivity to the energies of the natural world. He works with the natural materials he uses, understanding their forms, structures, and properties and following their lead. This resonates with me. I’ve always imagined making a garden in this way, by gently enhancing and following what was already there in the land and its creatures. I’ve learned to do that, somewhat, over the decades. Goldsworthy, though, inspires me to take it to a different level, to play with patterns in nature wherever I find myself.

Goldsworthy, it seems to me, has a deeply Pagan sensibility (by whatever name it may be called). The natural world is both his inspiration and his medium. It nourishes him, and he becomes a vehicle for nature’s self-expression. And he understands that to work with nature is to surrender to time. Everything he makes, he makes with the knowledge that it will dissolve and return back to its source. Perhaps his rock walls, arches, and cairns are more permanent by human standards, but they are still made with their return in mind, it seems; they are just more slow, more patient, in their transformation.

I would like to own a copy of this film, to share with friends and to renew my spirit from time to time.

When I first found the Pagan path, I was overwhelmed by the difference it made in my approach to life. I described it as going along the grain, living with the natural patterns of the world rather than struggling against them. I’ve never seen a better visual expression of that feeling than in Goldsworthy’s work.

For me, Rivers and Tides is a deeply spiritual film posing as an art documentary. If you haven’t seen it, you should.