Land Art: Ephemeral Beauty, Eternal Bliss

by Rashmie Jaaju on September 23, 2011 · 38 comments

in Art & Craft,Nature Learning

Art is something that we can create, enjoy and relish anywhere, anytime. There's no rule of time, place, material, age, gender. Really, this is one subject that lets you be, as you want to be!

I came to know about a very fascinating form of art called Land Art, way back in 2009 via The Artful Parent. And, I was immediately intrigued.

Land Art, basically, means doing art 'in' nature by using raw material from nature. You can do it on the beach, in the woods, on water. You can use leaves, pebbles, twigs, berries, acorns – anything that you think will contribute to your art.

For an ardent nature lover like me, it was something I instantly resonated with. 

Knowing that there are artists and environmentalists like Richard Shilling or Andy Goldsworthy who have dedicated their lives to this kind of art, is so heartening. It restores my faith and belief that we must ultimately pursue what our hearts desire us to.  I wrote an article recently on Tiny Buddha – baring my heart on this subject.

Recently, when in South Africa, we spent some joyful time on the beaches doing exactly this. Without keeping a watch on time, we spent hours collecting raw material from nature and making something; anything. 

For young children, land art is an extension of play. It can be soothing, fun and spiritual in many ways.

It helps them get outdoor, connect with nature, inspect, examine, touch and feel and learn instinctively. If there is no forest area or a beach in the vicinity, they can do this even in their own backyard, in a public park or a garden.  As a parent or an educator, do this along-side (or 'with') them initially for them to appreciate and understand its beauty and fun.

After making that shell garden and a sand city that you see in the picture above, when it was time to leave, Pari felt sad that it might be washed away by the waves. There were dogs on the beach running about and she was worried  that they will collapse it. So, she wanted to stay there as long as possible to be able to "protect" it. I understood her feelings and tried to explain the best I could and in a way that she could understand.

Land art is ephemeral in nature. Which means, it will stay with you for a fleeting time. It may be there for just the time you are working on it and then it will deteriorate and become one with nature again or may be washed away by water and wind.  

But, that's the whole beauty of it. You enjoy the process of seeking out something beautiful in nature, use your creativity to make something from it, revel in that moment, marvel at your creation, take pictures and walk away with peace.

If you live in urban areas like we do, land art is the most organic, playful and stress-relieving way of getting away from the din and bustle and connecting with yourself.

Back from the vacation, we don't have a beach or a forest area close by, but we still want to create anywhere we can.


Some resources:

I have been wanting to buy the book by Richard Shilling called Land Art for Kids – on The beach, for long now. But, sadly, it's not available here in Delhi. It's not on Flipkart as well. I'll keep an eye nonetheless and let you know when I spot somewhere.

For those of you who can buy on Amazon, here's the link.

Meanwhile, Flipkart does list 'Land Art' (aimed at adults) – one of Richard Shilling's initial books but it's currently out of stock.

You can also visit Richard Shilling's website for some ideas, explanation and the thought process or read his interview on The Artful Parent blog.

Worth a visit is this Flickr Page by Land Artist and photographer JRT Pickle that has hundreds of inspiring pictures of land art.

What do you think of Land Art? Have you done this before or would like to? Does this sound interesting to you?