In 2001, filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer introduced us to Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, a man who finds both his material and inspiration in nature, in "Rivers and Tides." Sixteen years later, he revisits the man in "Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy."
It is not entirely necessary to have seen "Rivers and Tides" in order to enjoy this followup, but it does help put things in perspective. Goldsworthy continues to use the landscape around his Scottish home for his work, but now he also employs others for larger scaled works around the world and his now grown daughter Holly acts as his assistant.
The film opens in Brazil, Goldsworthy using a beam of light within a rustic stable to catch the earth he throws into the air. He admires the handmade clay floor in the owners' home, then adjusts their methods for his own work. We see a team chainsawing hatch marks into a multi-limbed downed tree. A team moves it indoors where Goldsworthy applies a smooth clay coating. You think it's finished, admiring the transformation, but Goldsworthy isn't done, Riedelsheimer's shot dissolving into the completed artwork, a crackling of the surface transforming it once more.
Goldsworthy goes to Morecambe, England, where he got his start, visiting ancient rock cut tombs. These will inspire his own lying stone, one of the many places he creates a 'shadow painting,' a type of reverse snow angel Goldsworthy creates all over the globe by lying in the rain. In New England, he marvels at the 'ghost' walls that run through forests which have overtaken what they once contained. He builds a new one, but his is below the ground and split down the middle, allowing him to walk down its center. He is commissioned for works in San Francisco, St. Louis and southern France.
But Goldsworthy is most compelling in Dumfriesshire, the land he's known for years. He 'crawls' through a hedge's midsection, his body forming geometric angles amidst the jagged branches (we'll also see him pop out of a leafy hedge on an Edinburgh street like a lost member of Monty Python). He commemorates trees fallen to Dutch Elm disease, 'painting' them with yellow leaves as he tells us about his intense relationship with the color. He attaches reeds across limbs, the soundtrack's shredding violin strings the aural equivalent of the spiky emotion he evokes.
Sixteen years have seen changes, Goldsworthy having separated from, divorced and losing his wife. He's also remarried and a father once again, his life mirroring the loss and rebirth of his ephemeral work. Riedelsheimer is the ideal collaborator, his slo motion footage of workers chiseling rock not only a documentation, but an extension of Goldsworthy's art. Even better, the filmmaker gives us the momentary illusion of seeing the world through Goldsworthy's eyes.
My first exposure to the art of Andy Goldsworthy was back in 2001 with the documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer, “Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time.” That film was a visual feast of creating art out of nature, using the tools that nature provided to complete the wonderful, visually striking organic artworks. Now, the pair collaborates once again with “Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy.”
I like art, I appreciate art, but I am not even an amateur art aficionado. But, after I saw “Rivers and Tides” back 17 years ago, that wonderful film and its images have stayed with me, in great clarity, ever since. So, having the opportunity to see the next collaboration between Goldsworthy and Riedelsheimer is something I looked forward to, eagerly. I was not disappointed.
Unfortunately, I do not have the vocabulary to describe the works that Goldsworthy (and, with the extension of his camera lens, Riedelsheimer) create. You have to see it for yourself to appreciate his creations as they come to life. We do not just get to savor, visually, the finished product, we also are given insight to the painstaking process that creates the art that so pleases the eye.
If you love nature and all of its wonders and you love art, you must see “Leaning Into the Wind.” Heck, if you remotely appreciate art, you should see this film. I give it an A-.
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