Andy Goldsworthy to Create Site-Specific Installation called 'Watershed' at deCordova

  • LINCOLN, Massachusetts
  • /
  • April 19, 2019

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Andy Goldsworthy, Proposal drawing for Watershed, to be installed at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA. © Andy Goldsworthy, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

DeCordova has announced Watershed, a site-specific commission by Andy Goldsworthy. The permanent installation will make deCordova the only public institution in New England with an outdoor work by the internationally renowned British artist. Work is expected to begin in the Sculpture Park this spring, and anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019.

“We are incredibly honored to work with Andy Goldsworthy—one of today’s most prominent and inventive artists—on this significant addition to deCordova’s Sculpture Park,” says deCordova Executive Director John B. Ravenal. “The permanent installation of Watershed will enhance deCordova’s offerings for visitors passionate about the connection between art and nature—and for those who simply wish for the unforgettable experience of encountering a Goldsworthy installation in the landscape.”

Andy Goldsworthy, Proposal drawing for Watershed, to be installed at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA. © Andy Goldsworthy, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

Watershed is a site-specific work designed to interact with deCordova’s unique natural environment. Throughout his career, Goldsworthy has explored the power of water. Its force, energy, and impact respond to the rhythm of weather, and have strong and powerful consequences on the landscape. Watershed is composed of an open-fronted, nine-by-fifteen-foot granite stone structure, partially-embedded in the slope of deCordova’s pond-side hill. The work will be built in a vernacular style, echoing stone walls and structures found throughout New England, using local materials and the expert assistance of Goldsworthy's team of British wallers. On the structure’s interior rear wall, stonework will radiate in concentric circles from a drain outlet centered in the wall—a powerful evocation of water’s energy and pattern. In proposing the idea, Goldsworthy also hopes that local environmental organizations will engage with the work and its attention to rainwater.

In times of heavy rain, water that flows across deCordova’s paved upper lot will be collected and channeled underground to pour from the outlet in the work's rear wall, giving form to the usually unremarked course of groundwater across hard surfaces and allowing people to see and hear the work come to life. In dry weather the wall will stand expectantly, waiting to be activated. The work will serve to illustrate both the impermanence and the lasting effects of water, through the growth of residues like mineral deposits, moss, and patina. With the invitation to enter the piece, the human presence in all of these periods activates the work and its lifetime.

Andy Goldsworthy, Culvert Carin, 2013, Private Collection, California. © Andy Goldsworthy, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York & Haines Gallery, San Francisco

As a permanent commission by an internationally acclaimed artist, Watershed underscores deCordova's role as a leading U.S. sculpture park, deepening the discourse on contemporary sculpture in our community and beyond for generations to come.

“We’re thrilled with the new design of Watershed. In bringing together art and nature, it highlights an experience that makes deCordova so special,” says Ravenal. “We look forward to welcoming our visitors to this installation throughout the seasons.”

Major funding for this project is provided by the Nancy Foss Heath & Richard B. Heath Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as numerous generous private supporters. 

In photographs, sculptures, installations, and films spanning a career of four decades, Andy Goldsworthy documents his explorations of the effects of time, the relationship between humans and their natural surroundings, and the beauty in loss and regeneration.

Permanent, site-specific installations by Goldsworthy can be seen at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York; Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; and the Presidio of San Francisco, among numerous other sites. Major solo exhibitions of Goldsworthy's work have been presented by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, U.K.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California. In 2021 the Yale Center for British Arts will open a traveling retrospective of Goldsworthy’s work. The artist was born in Cheshire, England in 1956, and is based in southwest Scotland. Goldsworthy is represented by Galerie Lelong & Co.

Snow House

In 2009, deCordova invited Goldsworthy to propose a permanent outdoor installation at deCordova. The artist’s original proposal, Snow House, evolved with time and discussion into the current Watershed proposal, which like Snow House connects to weather, seasons, and time.

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