|THE BUILDING OF THE PINFOLD CONES
Andy Goldsworthy wrote the following statement
about the cones he has built in pinfolds around the Kirkby Stephen
'From 1981 until 1985 I lived at
Brough in Cumbria. For some of that time I worked as a part-time
gardener on the Helbeck Estate, just above Brough. From the walled
garden on a clear day I could see across to Hartley Fell and the
constructed piles of stones called the Nine Standards.
Although not very large compared
to the scale of the overall surrounding landscape it is extraordinary
how the Standards dominate the valley below. They are a watchful
presence on the skyline - slightly threatening yet at the same time
I learnt much about the siting of
sculpture from the Standards - not least, my own reluctance to place
work directly on hilltops. It can be too obvious and at times arrogant
- as if somehow the sculpture has claimed the hill. Only occasionally
have I made work in such places.
A few years earlier in 1980 I struggled
for several days to make a stacked stone sphere. Climbing up to
the Standards could have been the stimulus that provoked the ball
to grow into a cone and become one of the most repeated and most
travelled forms in my work. I know that I made my first cone at
Brough and that one of the Standards is distinctly cone shaped.
Like the cairns that define paths
in the mountains and fells of Britain, the cones have become journey
markers to my travels - leaving a trail. Some made in ice or branches
remain as memories; others still stand in America, Australia, Sweden,
Denmark, Scotland, France and England. There is however another
journey that is for me possibly more important than travelling,
which is the journey and exploration into the form itself.
What may appear as repetition is
in fact a deepening awareness of the richness and variation contained
within the form. Sometimes differences can only be seen and understood
through repetition. I learn something new with each new cone. When
I stop learning I will stop making them.
Each cone is a surprise. I don't
remember making any cone that, upon completion, I did not feel an
urge to pull it down and try again. I know, however, that the very
irregularities that irritate me at the time of making will become
those qualities that I like most about the sculpture. There are
parallels with growth. Trees of the same species that grow in the
same place, but produce enormous variation in their growth pattern.
A tree grows with perfection as its intention but never achieves
it - responding to the space into which it grows.
'The cones are made more by feel
than calculation, especially those constructed at night. The resulting
irregularities give energy to form and help it fit into the place.
They are made with the same shape in mind, but the response to each
stone, place and time produces enormous variation. Repeating this
work makes me more aware of the differences.
I am fascinated by the way a cone
grows, stone upon stone, layer by layer - as a tree does, ring upon
ring. By making slight changes in the placing of each stone, the
shape can be brought out or taken in, made elegant or squat, full
I enjoy the unpredictability of
working by eye and hand. Tools and machinery are used for the larger,
more permanent sculptures, but for the most part my hands are the
best tools I have. I need direct contact between hand and earth.
There is enormous freedom in going empty handed to a place and discovering
there the material and the means to work with it.
Each time I try to achieve a perfect
cone but somehow always lose control in the making. Cones dictate
their own shape and I resist making 'corrections' which might interrupt
the flow of form. lrregularities must be worked through slowly to
avoid harsh or abrupt changes. I must think beyond the detail of
individual stones to an overall idea of the form. The day I make
a perfect cone will possibly be the last time I make one.
The cones are built solid for both
practical and aesthetic reasons. The form is an expression of the
fullness, vigour, heavy ripeness and power of nature generated from
a centre deep inside - the seed becoming a tree and the unfolding
of a flower. This feeling of endless layers of growth and internal
depth would be lost if the cone were hollow. A concentration of
energy is achieved when materials are drawn tightly together. It
is this underlying energy that truly binds each piece to the next.'
The Nine Pinfolds * is an opportunity
for me to take the cone back to its origin and to place it in counterpoint
and dialogue with the Nine Standards.
Where the Standards are dramatic
monuments of the high ground mine will be monuments for the valley
and village life. They sit within the enclosure of pinfolds, the
walls of which take on a role similar to that of a protective outer
shell of a seed. I like the idea of enfolding the cone within a
walled enclosure which is itself enfolded by a village.
The Nine Standards and the Pinfold
Cones share a common purpose as guardians and I will do all that
I can as an artist and maker to give the cones life, strength and
energy that will bring to their respective villages good fortune.
The form is full and ripe - an optimistic
expression of the power of growth and that even out of stone comes
life. They are strong yet the form appears precarious - not unlike
the nature of growth itself.'
1 See Hankinson, A 'Coleridge Walks the Fells', (1991), Ellenbank
2 Ross, S 'Gardens, earthworks, and environmental art' in 'Landscape,
natural beauty and the arts', Ed Kemal, S and Gaskell, I (1995),
p178, Cambridge. See also, Andrews, M 'Landscape and Western Art',
(1999), pp218-220, Oxford.
3 Goldsworthy, A. 'Sheepfolds', (1996), p.12, Michael Hue-Williams
4 Quoted from Goldsworthy, A. 'Stone', (1994), Viking Books.
* There are currently six pinfolds containing cones.