Monday, April 14, 2008

Uncertainty and creativity

Last night we watched a wonderful movie, Rivers and Tides, about Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy, who creates art in nature using elements of nature: twigs, rocks, ice and flowers. Much of his work is ephemeral, disappearing or transmutting as the tide comes in and out, ice melts, and the river flows. Other works, such as his stone fences and cairns, is longer-lasting but changes as the seasons change.

There is a sensuous appreciation of the materials of nature: the very nature of rock, for example, or sheep's wool, an attempt to get down to the very essence of things. There is also a willingness to fail, which I found as charming as the successful creations. It manages to be very thought-through, but also in the moment. Goldsworthy said he liked the sense of taking a work to the edge of collapse, of living with the uncertainty that things will hold together or fall apart.

That was the true gift to me of the documentary movie, because I seem to be living in such a time, not knowing whether I will gain some traction against this cancer, whether it will bide its time and decide to strike again later, or whether the treatments will not do what they are supposed to do. Whatever the reason is, I have begun making some small works of art again. It feels quite wonderful to be working with materials again, and to try through self-expression to capture the sense of hope that seems to be coming with the spring.