The Real Jurassic Park: Geological Explorations in Southwest England
University of Washington, Tacoma
TESC 417: Summer 2006
The Real Jurassic Park: Geology field course along the south coast of England (TESC 417)

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From the Global to the Local: 

A Detailed View of Environmental Art & the Creative Process Within

Daniel M. Podrasky


TESC 417

Dr. Davies-Vollum & Dr. Cheryl Greengrove

1 September 2006


Earth houses a complex civilization of people who not only seek to understand the world on an intimate, personal, and individual level, but also on a global level.  However, civilization depends not only on the evolution from the personal to the global through pure and truthful communication, but communication that will allow the observer to step into the purity of that exchange and take what one connects to, with the intention that it will result in the birth of a profound shift on an individual and global level.  In order to understand how an individual person can allow an observer to have a pure experience and cultivate a positive shift on both the individual and societal level, we must evaluate not only the method of communication necessary in order to achieve this, but also how the observer and presenter make a connection to this innate cyclic process and the results from such a connection.  Moreover, it was not until I recently traveled from the Seattle Washington area to England that I was able to experience how the world shared global values, communicated these values, represented these values on a local level, and then integrate my global experience into an intimate reflection on a local level.

            In order to understand this fundamental cyclic nature between the global and local and how communication through art gives the observer a pure experience, I first decided to research the artist Andy Goldsworthy whom is from England and has both a local and global artistic career that focuses upon environmental awareness and humanities connection to the Earth.  Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956, brought up in Yorkshire, and developed his niche in working with materials from the Earth at both Bradford College of Art and Preston Polytechnic from 1974 to 1978 (Goldsworthy, 2000).  After completing his formal education, Goldsworthy became fascinated with the

globally diverse, remote, and rather extreme areas of the world including the Lakes District in the United Kingdom, the North Pole, and Australian Outback (Goldsworthy, 2000).

Goldsworthy’s sculptures made out of ice, twigs, stones, leaves, and reeds play with the human connection to place and time—two very significant concepts that remain ephemeral and non-conceptualized by man—ultimately leading to his ability in playing off the observers visual experience to create a sense of urgency in the state of our environment.  For instance, an example of the fragility and timelessness of Goldsworthy’s work is illustrated in the following photograph of a sculpture titled Icicle Stack:

Andy Goldsworthy <em>Icicle Stack</em>, 1978 © Andy Goldsworthy 2002

                        (Goldsworthy, 2002)

 When Andy Goldsworthy spends 14 solid hours creating the ice sculpture—as seen in the above figure—only to watch it melt within a 13 minute period of time as the sun rises,

Goldsworthy only gives the viewer a pleasant aesthetic experience, but most importantly an elemental connection to the Earth, a sense time, and the message that humanity must feel a sense of urgency in helping to restore, or save our Earth and its systems from destruction. 

            Andy Goldsworthy’s work not only clearly exemplifies this sense of global urgency that we must cultivate towards the Earth, but his sculptures also transcend words, writing, and other forms of conceptualized communication to reach a place deeper and more precise:  A place of connecting to the basic elemental nature of healing.  However, before we can understand the true implications of Goldsworthy’s work, we must first understand the basic connection that humans have to the Earth and nature itself. 

For example, one way of gaining an idea of how an individual’s healing is linked to their respect of the environment is by evaluating, on a global level, how numerous ancient cultures have integrated aspects respect for the Earth into their culture and are both physically and mentally connected to their environment.  For instance, Buddhist philosopher and environmentalist Chogyam Trungpa examines this primitive connection to the Earth along with ones global and local experience in his book titled Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness when he writes the following: 

When human beings lose their connection to nature, to heaven and earth, then they do not know how to nurture their environment. Healing our society goes hand in hand with healing our personal, elemental connection with the phenomenal world. (145)

Trungpa is able to bring the rather broad subjects within art into an all-encompassing perspective by relating the larger topic of the Earth to the elemental and basic connection it has to life, the smaller aspect of the individual, and most importantly the psychological connection between the healing of the Earth and of the self.   Therefore, we can ultimately see that healing, or shifting our personal and global relationship to the Earth is dependent upon our connection to the Earth, and the catalyst for this profound change is our aesthetic relationship to nature.  Moreover, the use of art gives the power of non-conceptualized aesthetic creations that Goldsworthy ultimately uses to effectively communicate his intention of ultimately cultivating both a personal and local along with a larger or global shift towards healing the Earth.

            Although Goldsworthy or other artists’ intentions may seem clear to others, it is important that they are able to precisely explain the message behind a work without destroying the personal experience of the viewer due to that artists projection.  For instance, Simon Schama in an article published in The New Yorker titled “The Stone Gardener-The Art World” depicts Goldsworthy’s multidimensional intention and interest in global change through his personal artwork when Schama writes the following: 

Goldsworthy believes—as a matter of historical fact and his own individual taste—that the social and the natural are not mutually exclusive…He makes the suburbs do un-suburban things, obliging to remember the harder rural history over which they have been comfortably laid. (3)

This clearly serves as an example as to Goldsworthy’s intention behind the aspect of setting to which he creates his sculptures in.  While alluding to his personal message that our world is rather an interdependent system that works on both a global and local scale, Goldsworthy also points to our global systems failure to acknowledge the need for a massive shift towards the Earth’s restoration in the future.

            After genuinely comprehending Goldsworthy’s background, work, intentions, and message while developing a philosophical framework in understanding the relationship between communication, art, the global, and local, I began to realize that just as Andy Goldsworthy has, other artists have been successful in moving their personal, or local intentions into larger, or global projects.  Moreover, this shift towards environmental art, also known as eco-art, has distinct characteristics and attributes that are important to identify on a universal level before we can continue to understand eco-art in both England and the Seattle area.

The term environmental art has been used to categorize art of any type that has a multidimensional approach to examining the current state of affairs, humanity, and how civilization has and will continue to affect the Earth (Weintraub, 2006).  However, the specific purpose of environmental art is to bring awareness to the growing problems our Earth is facing without harming the Earth in any manner.  The four key components of eco-art include the following: First, expanding art’s key relationship to the visual sense by creating multi-sensory works; Second, reconfiguring time to bring it into alignment with evolutionary change including past and future conditions that lie beyond the artist’s lifetime; Third, rather than taking up space, create works that move through space; and

fourth, the artists celebrate human aspiration without glorifying individual personality (Weintraub, 2006).  Thus, we can see that Andy Goldsworthy’s work, for instance, is multi-sensory in that it is 3-dimensional, examines time and place by setting and materials, moves through space by working outdoors, and is clearly distinct of Goldsworthy’s style but points to a larger meaning. 

            In addition to examining Goldsworthy’s global work in terms of putting it into a classical “eco-art” framework, we can begin to view the local art of England and Seattle in this context as well.  For instance, when traveling through England our group made it a point to stop just south of Lyme and Weymouth Bay at an old quarry turned eco-reclamation exhibit called Tout Quarry.  Interestingly enough, Tout Quarry is as dedicated to sharing the geological features within this obsolete quarry as it is to presenting environmentally oriented art within and amongst the quarry.  The intention behind such an eco-art project is an attempt to speak out about the damage that has been done to the Earth through the process of quarrying.  Tout Quarry’s history goes back from 1780, a time when the Portland limestone was being used to build St. Paul’s Cathedral (Palmer, 2006).  Furthermore, Tout Quarry may seem similar to those of other Quarry’s, but it is especially unique in that it was used as a location in the full-time training of Masons due to the extremely unique composition of its Limestone (Francis, 2006). 

While it is important to notice Tout Quarry’s history and geological properties, it is also important to examine how and why this obsolete quarry has turned into an eco-restoration project that draws artists on a global level.  For example, the geological

composition of the Portland limestone makes it not only an excellent building material, but an excellent sculpting material due to its soft but firm quality that is a result of the warm, carbonate-rich, shallow water it was formed in around 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period (Stanley, 2005). 

            In addition to evaluating how the geological composition of Tout Quarry has resulted in its use as both a building stone and now artistic site, we can view how an artist has created a sculpture specific to Tout Quarry that exemplifies a universal message at a local site within England. For instance, Stephen Marsden comments on his personal experience and vision of Tout Quarry becoming a site that is both locally and globally known presently for its restoration through art when he writes the following: 

Fallen Fossil came after regular visits to the Museum of Natural History, where I was attracted by some fossils embedded in the matrix stone, punctuating the rough broken quality of the stone…Fallen Fossil  looks back towards fossils, and forwards towards architecture…You think of London as a positive sculpture -- you can't think of it without this stone, the positive outcome of this negative space here. (2)

Marsden not only implies how his work integrates with that of Weintraub’s eco-art framework, but as to how his work specifically relates to the geology of the site.  As for the former, Marsden’s work is multi-dimensional in that it is a sculpture, it examines the essence of time through the content of rock and fossil, it moves within the environment, and marks an individuals vision with the quest to send a universal message through personal interpration.  As for the lattar, Marsden makes specific reference to how both the

Museum of Natural History inspired his work along with the setting to which he was going to create it for. 

            Furthermore, it is not only important to examine the written intention of an artist, but it is of equal value to examine the work from a personal perspective based on your own experience.  Thus, the following is an image of Masden’s work titled Fallen Fossill from Tout Quarry near Chesil Beach in England:   

Fallen Fossil

When viewing this image, one can begin to understand not only a conceptual background and how it is part of a eco-art project at Tout Quarry and effort towards the reclamation of land, but also a stunning work of art that evokes feelings of beatuty, transcendence, remembrance through the trace-fossil-like sculpture, and craftsmanship. 

            Once I was able to understand both the global and local aspect of Tout Quarry and the relationship it had within the world, I was surprised when I was able to find very similar environmental and reclamation art projects within the greater Seattle area.  For example, a very similar project to that of Tout Quarry is located in Kent Washington and

is a land work created by Robert Morris titled Johnson Pit #30.  However, some argue that Johnson Pit #30, and a multitude of other reclamation projects within the Seattle-Tacoma area, are merely a distraction.  As author Thomas Heyd puts it in his response titled Revisiting the Artistic Reclamation of Nature, “Perhaps it is held that if a gravel pit or a landfill site can be turned into an artwork, viewers would perhaps forget the troubled history and surrounds of these places”(2).  Indeed, they may be distracted by the innovativeness of Morris; however, we must find a balance in acknowledge the new-found beauty of a rebirth in a lands once troubling past while maintaining an awareness of its history.

            On the other hand, another local site in the Seattle area is an Earthworks park located in Mill Creek Canyon.  This project was also one of the many that Seattle Government funded in order to restore and reclaim areas that were destroyed.  As a result, artist Herbert Bayer created this multi-dimensional work that is a park, sculpture, and storm-water retention basin.  The following is an image of Herbert Bayer’s creation titled Mill Creek Canyon Park: 






                                                              (Bayer, 1982)

In comparison to Morris’ work Johnson Pit #30, many would argue that Bayer’s work is a true Earth reclamation in that it is serving the Earth and the people by cultivating awareness in society about the lands purpose, is multi-dimensional in its functionality, and moves through the land while maintaining an aesthetic appearance as well. 

            Finally, while it is essential to question how we relate to our world, environment, and the art within it, it is also imperative to reflect upon our own experience, and perhaps create your own work.  Thus, my return home from England cultivated my personal creative force within and I concluded my personal experience by composing a song.  The song, titled Con mi Spiritu, was inspired by my aesthetic experience in the Beer Caves.  The Beer Caves gave me a feeling of depth, adventure, reflection, and most importantly a feeling of timelessness. 

            When composing the song Con mi Spiritu I decided to record my vocal part several times, in harmony with both similar and different intonations to establish a feeling of a deep, resonating calmness: A dark sound that gives illumination to a basic chant like chorus that would guide a feeling of resonance within the listener.  Also, I decided to use a made-up language of phonetic sounds that are similar to Latin in order to allow the listener to enter into a realm of pure sounds rather than a forced message communicated through a language.  Therefore, my intention was to create a pure, multi-layered vocal piece that would allow listeners to step into another “world” in order to transcend our conceptual boundaries and reach towards a place of healing and growth, which will hopefully inspire others towards positive aspirations and contributions to humanity. 

In conclusion, my journey to England has proven to be quite a profound trip intellectually and experientially.  I gave myself the opportunity to experience art in both is physically global and local form, while understanding that its physicality is merely an aspect of coming home to ones body to create such a work.  Furthermore, I was able to use Andy Goldsworthy as a platform to develop and cultivate a personal dialogue with myself to understand the differences and similarities in choosing an appropriate method of communicating both global and local ideas, values, morals, and ethical responsibilities.  Finally, I sincerely hope that my intention has been clear through this document and vocal performances in that we as humans must take responsibility in learning about our world in a personal way and finding the appropriate means of sharing our full-experience to others in hopes of cultivating an awareness in the similarity within our differences.


Works Cited



Dunhill, Mark.  Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust: An Artist’s view.  17 August 2006.  <>.


Francis, Jane., Palmer, Tim.  Portland Sculpture & Quarry: The Geologists’ View.  17 August 2006.  <>. 


Goldsworthy, Andy.  Andy Goldsworthy—Refuges D’ Art.  London, England.  Artha, 2001.


Hayward Gallery: United Kingdom. 28 August 2006.  <>.


Heyd, Thomas.  The Trumpeter:  Revisiting the Artistic Reclamation of Nature.  24 August 2006.  <http://www.trumpeter.athatbascau.cacontent/v151/heyd.html>.


Mill Creek Canyon Park.  20 August 2006.  <http//>.


Schama, Simon.  “The Stone Gardener-The Art World”.  The New Yorker: Critics; The Art World.  New York, New York: Sept. 22, 2003. Vol. 79, Iss. 27; Pg. 126


Stanley, Steven M.  2005.  Earth System History:  Second Edition.  New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.


Tout Quarry:  Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust—Geologist View & Artistic View.  17 August 2006.  <>.


Trungpa, Chogyam.  Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness.  Boston, MA. Shambhala Publishings, 1993. 


Weintraub, Linda.  “Final Thoughts: Eco-Art in Practice”.  Art Journal.  New York: Spring 2006. Vol.65, Iss.1; Pgs. 81-2. 



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