When is a leaf, Art? When it’s Goldsworthy-inspired!
Well, we all know that a leaf in and of itself is not art.
A leaf can be transformed when we’re talking about environmental outdoor art. No, not the 3Rs kind. The Andy Goldsworthy kind. Now we’re talking. He’s famous for an art medium that’s just about as close as you get to being in touch with nature as possible. It’s three dimensional, interactive, usually temporary and involves how you interact with what is around you: flora, fauna, climate, – in a mish mash of beauty. You’ll want to check out his work here for inspiration! His philosophy and works are listed and are worth more than a quick glance.
Children of all ages can experiment with different textures (bark, leaves, needles, rocks, and so on). They can go at it alone, with you, siblings or friends. They can explore the harmony created by repeating shapes, colours or textures. You can encourage them to use the sunlight to their advantage: at a given time, shadows will be cast on their objects and children can try to create a specific shadow by moving around some of their pieces.
Here’s a video of a group-made piece, done right in a playground.
Some suggestions for doing this type of art with toddlers, teens and everyone in between:
- Enjoy being at one with the world around you. Before starting your work, use all your senses to set a mood. Is it windy? Humid? How will you interpret what you sense?
- Work with nature, not against it. If you have a pre-conceived notion that you’ll find say, feathers on a beach and then don’t, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, bring an open-mind to the art space. That way you’ll be able to “see” more opportunities in everyday found things.
- Though a beach, rocky land or forest certainly make it more interesting, your destination needn’t be “exotic”. A play ground or backyard will do.
- Respect the environment. You leave with what you came, including the chocolate bar wrapper and please, oh please, make sure your children know that they cannot disturb nature, so while it’s okay to pick up a fallen branch it’s not okay to break one off a living tree.
- Pack a camera. Goldsworthy documents all of his work through photography. Remember your art stays where you made it. It is temporary. Someone may come across it and add to it.