Q: What is land art?
A: Wikipedia has more about this but land art was a movement started in the late sixties and early seventies by artists such as Robert Smithson. Other terms for it are earth art, ecological art or nature art and basically it involves using the landscape and natural materials to create sculptures. There are different forms of it, Robert Smithson famously created a massive spiral in the Great Salt Lake in Utah and coined the term land art. My work, however, mainly consists of small scale ephemeral sculptures using natural materials found near by. No glue or string is used, only what I can find in nature.
Q: How did you start making your art?
A: A number of years ago I moved from the South-East of England to the North West. One day I was out wandering on the nearby hills and came across a fascinating structure made from stone. There seemed to be no practical purpose for the structures and I was intrigued as to what they were and what they were doing there in the middle of nowhere on a wild moor.
Q: What did you discover about them?
A: I find out that they were made by Andy Goldsworthy. I had not heard of him and so I bought one of his books: Andy Goldsworthy 'A Collaboration with Nature'. When I first looked at its pages I was absolutely gobsmacked. I found his artwork utterly beguiling and inspirational and I wanted to try and make my own sculptures just like his.
Q: What did you find so inspiring about what you saw?
A: I was amazed at what he had discovered in nature and was revealing to me through his photos. The colours and shapes and structures that were there all the time but that were now seen with fresh eyes.
Q: So what happened then?
A: Well I was so inspired that I wanted to try making some land art sculptures myself. I wanted to make those pictures I had seen come alive, I wanted to find those colours and structures and shapes for myself.
Q: How did you go about it?
A: I studied Goldsworthy's artwork in detail. This included copying some of his most famous sculptures, almost like serving an apprenticeship with a master. I wanted to try and see what he had discovered by following in his footsteps. I made sculptures purely for my own pleasure and to learn all about land art.
Q: What did you learn?
A: I found that through the practice of trying to recreate a sculpture that I would have to do a lot more than simply copy, I had to learn for myself about the materials, about the seasons and about the plants that I was using. It might appear to some that a coloured leaf sculpture is simple to duplicate. That couldn't be further from the truth. In order to recreate a coloured leaf sculpture I would need to learn about the different trees and when the colours were available and for how long. I needed to immerse myself in my surroundings to experience nature more deeply just like Goldsworthy did when he made the original.
Q: So you discovered this through closely studying Goldsworthy's work?
A: I did. Through the process of making sculptures I discovered there are many more layers to land art than is first apparent and my deep love for nature that I had since I was a small child intensified and what began as a simple exploration of Goldsworthy's work developed into something much more. I loved what I had seen in his books but now I had found a drive deep within me to make my own discoveries about nature through land art.
Q: So you decided to follow your own path?
A: Yes. I realised then that I should stop exploring the work of Goldsworthy and to make my own discoveries. I started to develop my own style but as Goldsworthy was such an inspiration to me then his influence still remains. However my later work is purely my own with my own recognisable and distinctive style.
Q: Did you go to art school and did anyone teach you how to create?
A: No, I've never been to art school. Nor has anyone taught me how to make art. It's just something I tried on my own one day just because I was fascinated by it. There's no more to it than that.
Q: Some of your photos appear to be copies of Goldsworthy's work, aren't you just ripping him off?
A: As I explained above, some of my early pictures are indeed copies. I have never made a secret of it and I try to make it plain whenever I can the inspiration behind every sculpture. Indeed I wouldn't be pursuing this artform at all unless I had discovered that sculpture on the wild moor on that fateful day. I count myself as amongst his biggest fans and as I have been through the actual process of recreating some of his sculptures I have a deep insight into what is involved, perhaps more than someone who has not done so. I have every respect for his art and I owe him a deep gratitude for inspiring me to follow this path. Occasionally I will make new sculptures based on a famous Goldsworthy sculpture, but I do this just for my own pleasure, as an homage to him and his work and out of respect for what he has shown me.
Q: But some of your photos don't explain this?
A: I post all my work on the internet, on Flickr and on my blog. Unfortunately sharing like this does mean that images are regularly copied by individuals and posted elsewhere without my knowledge, this means I don't always have control over where and how they appear. Some of my earlier pictures appear on a number of sites where there is no explanation of the inspiration and as such it is understandable that people may think I am ripping off his ideas if that is all they have seen.
Q: But you are now a commercial artist?
A: I am but any commissions I work on or prints I sell involve only my own work, I do not make money out of copies I have made of Goldsworthy's work. The only exception is my first book "Land Art." But that book is all about my discovery of his artwork and it chronicles the voyage of discovery I made into the world of land art and as such depicts some of those copies and explains what I learnt when making them. The follow up books are made up of my own work only.
Q: How do I find out more about you and your art?
A: There is only a small selection of my work on here, there is much more on Flickr and on my blog. I post pictures on those sites the same day that I create something, along with a write-up of the experience. If you wish to follow my day-to-day experiences then it is best to do so there. You can also see the history of what I have made on both those sites as they chronicle everything right from the beginning. That is why there are pictures around of the study I made of Goldsworthy's work.
Q: What other land artists are there, how do I find out more about them?
A: Have a look at the links page and you will find lots of other artists if you want to learn more about land art. The list is not exhaustive but it will give you an insight into some of the main protagonists.
Q: I want to try to make some land art, how do you think I should go about it?
A: I try to encourage everyone I can to discover the joys of making land art. I have another website called LandArtforKids but it isn't just for children, there are loads of ideas on there for anyone of any age to try their hand at making natural art sculptures.
I am often asked how someone may go about having a career in land art and what someone may expect to earn. I find this to be a very strange question as if there is some sort of rule book or formula to a simple hobby and that I must know all the answers! If it is something that you wish to do then just go out and do it. If you are passionate about anything in life then you will want to do it for it's own sake and not to earn money or achieve some sort of status. If your first thought is how can I make money out of this then it probably isn't something for you. Live for something through your heart and just let everything else be. If your art feels good to you then you have achieved all you need to. If you seek to be famous or earn a lot of money before you have even started then, I am afraid, you have it all wrong.
Be inspired by nature and live among her splendour all that you can. There's no more to it than that.
If anyone has any other questions then I will be very happy to answer them, just drop me a line using the 'contact me' section.