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Land Art

Stone Coppice

Stone Coppice

Jupiter Artland

Land Art, also known as Environmental Art, are works of art, primarily sculpture, which are composed of natural materials from the Earth such as plants, rocks, soil and sand, or that interact with these elements. This art movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in conjunction with the growing ecological movement, but it also has roots in the art created by people of the past such as standing stones and the outlines of animals marked out on hills.

Land Art has often been made in remote and rural areas far from urban populations, and sometimes from materials that disappear over time. This led to artists relying on photo-documentation to share their work with audiences that couldn't reach it, or to capture the work before it fades away; sometimes this gradual decay has also been documented and is the artistic idea in and of itself.

Explore the following examples with your students and question: how has each work affected or been affected by its environment?

Many of the works have an interesting story. Click the image to find out more on the artwork page.

Andy Goldsworthy

Taking a Wall for a Walk

Taking a Wall for a Walk

The Forestry Commission

Andy Goldsworthy (b.1956) is one of the most well-known and admired Land artists. His work interacts with nature itself, using natural materials like trees and stone to form intricate sculptures. His first examples of Land Art were created on Morecombe Bay during his time studying at Saint Martin's School of Art, creating exploratory works with sand, stones and his own body. From there he went on to work with stone, wood, snow and ice, often creating colourful patterns using leaves and building stone structures that interplay with the landscape.

Activity: create your own Land Art

In this activity, students will be making their own piece of Land Art using natural materials such as leaves, branches and twigs.

In advance of the lesson, task your students with collecting sticks, twigs and leaves to bring to school (request that these are not taken from living plants). It might also help to make an example artwork to show learners on the activity day.

Example of a miniature work of Land Art

Example of a miniature work of Land Art

 

Materials

Students will need:

  • sticks, twigs and/or leaves
  • string or wool
  • scissors
  • paint or acrylic painter pens

Method

Encourage students to play around with different formations of their twigs and leaves on a flat surface in order to make a shape or pattern of their choice. Once they are happy with their design, they can tie it together with string or wool by weaving or tying small basic knots and cutting off loose ends.

Add a splash of colour

Add a splash of colour

Goldsworthy has splashes of colour in his work and he achieves this by using different coloured leaves or painting on branches. Students might like to add coloured string or paint on sections of branches and leaves. Encourage students to explore artworks on Art UK to find inspiration for how they might decorate their natural materials. The resources listed in the 'Pattern in art' section of our Halima Cassell and geometric pattern resource may also be of use.

Play with pattern

Play with pattern

Students have the option of keeping their work as an individual piece or combining all of their work together to make a large-scale sculpture. To explore how art affects the environment and vice versa, install the artwork outside on school grounds such as in a courtyard space, or on fence or wall. Discuss with your students:

  • Does the artwork change the school environment?
  • How will the outdoor environment affect the sculpture over time?

Explore different locations to exhibit the work

Explore different locations to exhibit the work

Extension activity

Andy Goldsworthy always takes photographs of his work before they decompose or perish. Task students with taking photographs of their work day-by-day using a camera or tablet. They may wish to create a digital or printed montage of how their sculpture has changed throughout the week.



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