Andy Goldsworthy Archive


Andy Goldsworthy's archive is held at his residence & studio located in Penpont, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The archive resides there alongside his studio collection, which includes physical works. Goldsworthy has also built a number of sculptures within the grounds, typically when 'testing out' possible ideas for commissions. Those sculptures are permanently sited.

Goldsworthy relocated his residence & studio in 1997. Previously, his studio was located at The Granary, also in Penpont. The Granary dates to the 18th century, and aside from its historic use as a Mill, it has in recent years, also accommodated a furniture workshop. Goldsworthy purchased the building in 1986, when he was living and working in Langholm in Southwest Dumfriesshire. It was his first studio, and provided the primary motivation for Goldsworthy's move to Penpont at that time.

Please note, Goldsworthy's archive and studio are not open to the public, apart from occasional open studio days.

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Goldsworthy's archive comprises personal papers, photographic, written and AV documentation, as well as artefacts dating from 1975 onwards. This material pertains to his ephemeral work, his residencies and projects, his commissions, and his temporary exhibitions.

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Slide Index

The largest component of Goldsworthy's archive is his collection of slides and transparencies, which he has organised according to the three strands of his practice: ephemeral, permanent/commission, and exhibitions.

The centrepiece of Goldsworthy's photographic documentation is his Slide Index, which records every ephemeral work that Goldsworthy has made from 1976 to the present day in chronological order. Each work is represented with a single slide, and numbered sequentially within the chronological framework.

Goldsworthy established his Slide Index in 1988, during a period of convalescence from a knee injury. He was able to retrospectively organise thirteen years worth of slides partly because, until recently, Kodachrome slides were returned in mounts that were numbered, and which also bore month/year dates, and in part by referring to his sketchbook diaries.

The Slide Index is not entirely accurate, and does bear more than a few anomalies. An example of an anomaly would be where Goldsworthy catalogued a work as January 1985 where, in fact, he made it in December 1984. These inconsistencies are born out by dates noted in his sketchbook diaries. A simple explanation is that the dates marked on the slide mounts noted the month that the film was developed, and occasionally Goldsworthy was delayed in processing his films.

It must be said that these factors do not detract from the extraordinary system that Goldsworthy set in place to organise and keep control of his prodigious output. Indeed, they enhance the Slide Index's direct connection to Goldsworthy. In essence, it functions as an accumulating memory bank, as a surrogate memory for Goldsworthy, and he makes frequent reference to it.

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Sketchbook Diaries

Goldsworthy first began to keep sketchbook diaries in August 1980. That first diary was a very simple affair - a ring bound notebook consisting largely of notes, with no illustrations to speak of. Subsequently, the indexical practice of sketching the work, and making brief observations has taken its place in Goldsworthy's alongside the process of photography, so that his means of documenting his ephemeral work is revealed to be many-layered.

The diaries yield a considerable amount of detail. However, Goldsworthy is not systematic in recording every work. The diaries are not comprehensive, but provide a powerful representation of Goldsworthy's outdoor practice. There do not seem to be any discernible criteria by which Goldsworthy may or may not have included an entry for a particular ephemeral work. The absence of a diary entry could quite simply be attributed to the fact that he ran out of time to do so.

For the most part, the entries are dated - to varying degrees of specificity. Some note the month only [Nov.], some include a more exact date [14th Nov.] Generally, Goldsworthy notes the location too [Glasgow Green, Middleton Wood, Scaur, and so on]. The entries can range from very brief descriptions of materials [elm - leaves - creased], or observations relating to the weather [calm, overcast, grey] to elaborated entries, which document the struggle to produce a particular work.

The majority of the entries are illustrated, usually with a summary pencil outline, onto which Goldsworthy may rub mud, or earth for instance. In his earlier sketchbooks, he sometimes worked up colour illustrations, which are visually wonderful, and would include pieces of leaf, stalk or grass.