Kids Learn Installation Art- Andy Goldsworthy

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I am so excited to be writing about Andy Goldsworthy for my second artist who makes installation art. (read about Patrick Dougherty here.)

Like Dougherty, Andy Goldsworthy uses the great outdoors as his medium and gallery. He creates compelling, meditative pieces using everything from snow to rocks and natural pigments from the area in which he’s working. His work pushes the boundaries of what he finds out about the materials: He carves snow until it is juuuust about to melt through, and then photographs it at that precise moment. Or he stacks rocks into a forever winding wall where each rock balances out the next and they all work together to hold up the massive structure. That’s cool.


Goldsworthy snow sculpture

Bright sunny morning, frozen snow, cut slab, scraped snow away with a stick, just short of breaking through. Izumi-Mura, Japan. 19 December 1987


Andy Goldsworthy rock wall

 Andy Goldsworthy’s sheepfolds near Crook in the Lake District in the winter of 2006.

Fen and I watched a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy the other week and she was as delighted as I was- we took turns yelling out the words, “cool!” and, “ohmygodlookitthat!” I knew about his work previously, but how enlightening to be able to ‘be there’ as he worked on some of his pieces and spoke about his creative process and what drives him. What a great experience for a kid to see this!

rivers and tides documentary- andy goldsworthy

Rivers and Tides. Click to find it on Amazon.

After being blown away by what this man can do with nature, how can you not, as a kid, try to emulate him? She sheepishly told me the next day that she had made a path of rocks in our back yard, so I tucked that information away for later. We recently found ourselves at a nearby stream, where rocks abounded, and Fen and I couldn’t start lining them up fast enough.

kid installation art

inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

rock sculpture in stream

boy in creek



I like that this sort of working outdoors, with whatever you find around you, lends itself to talking about the ideas inherent to installation art: how long will what you make last, based on nature or people changing it? How does what you made look in the environment? What did you think about while you were making it?


Goldsworthy with sculpture

Learn more about Andy Goldsworthy here.

See my other posts in this series:

Kids Learn Installation Art: Patrick Dougherty

Kids Learn Installation Art: Christo and Jeanne-Claude


Do you know what is ultra-cool? This post is linked up to the Kids Get Arty collaboration from: Red Ted Art, The Imagination Tree, Imagination Soup, Tinkerlab, and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.

This means you can bop around and read posts about kids making art inspired by artists, and maybe find some inspiration of your own.
Red Ted Art



  1. 07/18/2012 / 1:37 pm

    Very cool! I think it is neat that someone will come across your daughter’s rocks and wonder about them.

  2. 07/18/2012 / 5:05 pm

    I love Andy Goldsworthy and I totally agree with Ann above, when someone finds that they will be so pleased. Great idea

  3. 07/18/2012 / 5:30 pm

    Thanks! It would be fun to do a whole bunch of Andy Goldsworthy inspired pieces at different parks….

  4. 07/18/2012 / 5:48 pm

    Love this post. My kids build those dry wall rock walls at a reservoir/off leash dog park. They love it!

    His art is really cool. Thanks for the introduction!

  5. 07/18/2012 / 7:28 pm

    There’s something compelling to kids about making those walls, huh?

  6. 07/18/2012 / 11:24 pm

    LOVE this post. Goldsworthy is one of my absolute favorite artists of all time. I am always making little “installations” of arranged nature whenever I am outside with Simon. He often dismantles them being a toddler and all, but as he get older I really hope to get him to help me make them more, and eventually on a larger scale.

    My favorite part about this type of art, and also about street art, is thinking about the people who will happen upon it. My husband and i made some earthworks when we stayed in Rangely this past weekend, and I wished I could be a fly on a log to watch the other camp guests find and interact with our creations. He made rock forts that withstood the waves, and i made arrangements of smaller rocks.

  7. Mansi
    07/18/2012 / 11:44 pm

    Thanks for introducing Goldworthy to us. I love this post. I found your blog Just now. I have so much more to explore here!

  8. 07/19/2012 / 12:53 am

    Oh my gooodness, what a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL post. Such a wonderful inspiration to explore and get arty! Thank you so much for taking part AND for your very very very kind words over on Red Ted Art!!!

    FANTASTIC to have you on board! 🙂 Such a fantastic way for me (!) to also get inspiration and ideas and learn about great artists.


  9. 07/19/2012 / 12:54 am

    How wonderful. It makes me want to go out, explore and play!

  10. 07/19/2012 / 2:31 am

    What a brilliant post.

    Making those rock dams are memories that will last a lifetime for your kids – even if the dams themselves don’t.

    Love it!

  11. 07/19/2012 / 5:38 am

    Lovely post – we like Andy Goldsworthys work too : ) and often make strange bits and bobs for people to find – such fun. Will pop in again and explore your blog further : )

  12. 07/19/2012 / 9:17 pm

    Beautiful post. We love exploring the outdoors and finding ways to make art inspired by or incorporating nature! Happy to have found your lovely site! Cheers!

  13. 07/20/2012 / 10:45 am

    That’s so cool. All of this response- I bet Simon will make bigger installations with you when he’s older; it’s so fun. I love that feeling of knowing someone will happen upon your creation and hopefully be delighted….

  14. 07/20/2012 / 10:47 am

    Oh, hi! I’m so glad you found my blog, and thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy it- let me know if there’s something you want me to cover in a future post.

  15. 07/20/2012 / 10:48 am

    Thank you, Maggy! It was so fun to be a part of this link up to see what artists everyone chose and how they chose to explore them.

  16. 07/20/2012 / 10:49 am

    That’s a fun part of outdoor installation art- it’s natural for kids to want to play with all that nature stuff!

  17. 07/20/2012 / 10:50 am

    Aw, thanks Liz! You’re right about the memories- (it helps to have the photos, too.)

  18. 07/20/2012 / 10:51 am

    Thanks for your visit! Once you start making little mystery outdoor sculptures, it’s hard to not make them everywhere, isn’t it?

  19. 07/20/2012 / 4:38 pm

    i love the rocks! Fantastic idea!

  20. 07/23/2012 / 5:17 am

    That is totally cool. I abolutely love it and can’t wait to check out Andy Goldsworthy’s work with my daughters.

  21. 07/23/2012 / 5:28 am

    I have to say, I am loving learning so much myself through this series and getting back “into art”. Love all the artists that people have selected and how they have explored them with their kids!

  22. 07/23/2012 / 2:55 pm

    He’s wonderful. The documentary is definitely worth checking out as well.

  23. 07/23/2012 / 2:56 pm

    Thanks! It was a very fun, impromptu, simple way to get all arty.

  24. 11/08/2012 / 6:11 am

    Very neat! Stopping by from SITS and this was so cool to come across. Thanks for bringing Andy Goldsworthy’s work to my attention. Awesome blog!

  25. 11/08/2012 / 8:43 am

    Thanks for the post. When we were waiting for our daughter to give birth I saw some Andy Goldsworthy pinecones outside. It was a joy filled moment that relieved the tension, just a little. Thanks for the link to the other artists. Enjoy your SITS Day.

  26. 11/08/2012 / 1:20 pm

    My daughter used to have an obsession with lining up rocks and sorting them by size. Was this art? Perhaps…

  27. 11/12/2012 / 10:03 pm

    I love Andy Goldsworthy! I taught a Goldsworthy lesson to our fifth graders last spring (and wrote about it on my blog)…we went out in the school garden and made and photographed our temporary sculptures. I showed clips from Rivers and Tides – all the kids were seriously amazed, just like your Fen. Stopping by from SITS.


  28. 11/14/2012 / 2:07 pm

    Great inspiration to get crafty and get outdoors

  29. 01/17/2013 / 5:32 am

    Love this idea!! Very inspiring- we’re in the woods weekly and I never thought of doing art in the woods! I’ve done beach art with the kids, but I love the river/stream idea and snow! Thanks!

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