Striding Arches, Scottish Borders Landscape, Project, News, Design, Image

Striding Arches Scotland : Andy Goldsworthy Design

Work by Andy Goldsworthy in Dumfriesshire, Scottish Borders, Scotland, UK

29 Jun 2009

Striding Arches

Andy Goldsworthy – Dumfriesshire

Bringing people, art and the landscape together

Photographs: Mike Bolam, courtesy of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association

Andy Goldsworthy’s red sandstone arches, stride the wild and unspoilt landscape of the Scottish Southern Uplands, creating a unique sense of place and interpreting a little known area of the country. They offer a dialogue between structure and place and history and the landscape.

Striding Arches by Andy Goldsworthy Scotland

Now open for its first season, this hugely innovative, permanent artist-led project, created near Goldsworthy’s home, demonstrates his deep understanding of and engagement with the landscape and is unique to the UK.

Three arches stride the hilltops around the natural amphitheatre that is Cairnhead. In the heart of the glen, another arch springs from The Byre, a disused farm building, creating a place that is both sculpture and shelter.

Arch Striding through Byre
Striding Arches Scotland

Formed from hand-dressed blocks of red sandstone from a nearby quarry, each arch stands just under four metres high, with a span of about seven metres high, weighing approximately 27 tons and consisting of 31 blocks. Like the other single arches that Goldsworthy has made in Canada and the USA, this is totally self-supporting.

Like the sandstone and the people on their journeys over the centuries, the arches parallel the viewer’s journey. The physical journey for the walker from arch to arch and hilltop to hilltop; the mental journey required when undertaking one of the more arduous walks and the very way in which the arches themselves can seem to journey through and with the landscape.

Striding Arch on Benbrack Hill
Striding Arches

Andy Goldsworthy explained: “This work is about the social nature of landscape. Landscape is a very vigorous, powerful, challenging subject to deal with and people are very much part of it.”

The highest arch sits on top of Colt Hill at 598m, offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and a sightline of the other arches. The sites were carefully chosen, reflecting Goldsworthy’s intimate knowledge of the landscape, so that from each of the hilltop arches, the other two arches would be visible, thus acting as markers in the landscape and interacting with the viewer and each other.

Arches are traditionally seen as doorways and in Goldsworthy’s other works this is definitely not the case, but here at Cairnhead, they do offer an entrance way of a kind; an opening into a landscape which .people can now explore throughout the year.

Installation of Byre Arch
Andy Goldsworthy Scotland

Two other artists with a sensitivity to landscape and place were commissioned to make work in response to the natural and human history of the place. They have produced subtle works which interpret the landscape and the people who have helped shape it.

Artist and poet Alec Finlay has traced a truly beautiful walk which follows a course punctuated by eight letterboxes in which a stamp and inkpad can be found. Eight successive impressions taken from these in the course of the walk – which can be done by following Dalwhat Water either upstream or downstream – make up a Renga or circular poem and at the same time offer the participant a way into interacting with and observing the landscape.

Striding Arch on Colt Hill
Andy Goldsworthy design

Stonecarver Pip Hall was fascinated by the human history of the place. Impressed by the sense of a long line of changing lives taking their course in a relatively unchanging landscape, she set about devising inscriptions to celebrate the people who had lived in the valley. In the Byre’s lush meadow are carvings in slabs of Caithness stone which make up an informal bench. Into this stone, she has carved the names of some of the inhabitants of Cairnhead over the centuries, accompanied by motifs depicting objects that were part of everyday farming life. Incorporated into the stone dyke by the Byre, are sandstone slabs (the stone chosen to echo the arches) on which Pip Hall has cut a selection from the dozen or so names by which Cairnhead has been known over the last 500 years.

Carved names in dyke at Byre entrance
Andy Goldsworthy sculpture

Striding Arches has opened up a 1347 hectare site of wild and majestic landscape, close to the town of Moniaive, provided the community with a focus and a voice and enabled the recording of oral history that in another generation would have been lost. It is the first installation of its kind for Scotland and unique to the British Isles. Walks to the arches are signposted on information panels or for download from the website.

Striding Arches brochure with maps
Andy Goldsworthy work

Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldsworthy (b. 1956) is one of our best known British artists. There are regular exhibitions and permanent installations of his work in Britain, France, the United States and Canada. Although he travels all over the world to carry out commissions, the landscape around his home in Dumfriesshire remains at the heart of his work. The self-supporting stone arch is a form that Goldsworthy first built in the early 1980s. It has developed and recurred in his work ever since.
In March 2008, Andy Goldsworthy was interviewed at his home by Dr Tina Fiske. DVD available on request or can be incorporated into your website.

The site is on Forestry Commission land and is open all year, 24 hours a day. There is no charge for entry. Visitors are free to follow a designated route or with map and compass choose their own route to the arches.

Striding Arches is a partnership between Andy Goldsworthy, Cairnhead Community Forest Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association Public Art Team. Solway Heritage were the design consultants with advice from Scottish Natural Heritage. The project is funded by Scottish Arts Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Landfill Tax Credit, Leader Plus, Community Regeneration Fund, Robertson Trust, Dumfries and Galloway Council and The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Location: Cairnhead, Scottish Borders, Scotland

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