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UK Edition: Land Art With Richard Shilling

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Richard Shilling (a.k.a. escher1) is a sculptor, photographer and filmmaker working in the field of land art.

Land art involves making sculptures using only natural materials gathered near to where the sculpture is made. Many of them will last only a few short minutes before the elements sweep them away. Richard attempts to capture the most vital and vibrant moment of each sculpture in a photograph.

He makes his sculptures in beautiful natural places, particularly in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire, but has also created sculptures in Scotland and the Himalayas.

He has published four books and has a website and blog.


Tell us a wee bit about yourself.
I’m Richard Shilling and I live in Lancaster in the North-West of England. I was brought up in the country and would spend endless days exploring the woods and fields around my childhood home. I’m an IT manager by day but I need to spend as much time as I can in the outdoors: walking, exploring and creating. That’s the way I’ve been my whole life. I didn’t study art at school and never really knew I had any potential to be an artist. But ever since the cork came out of the bottle I have been consumed by the need to express myself in this way.

How did you begin your foray into the world of land art?
A number of years ago I moved from the South-East of England to the North-West. I was out on the nearby hills one day and came across a fascinating structure made from stone. There seemed to be no practical purpose for it and I was intrigued as to what it was. Eventually I found out they were made by Andy Goldsworthy so I bought one of his books and was absolutely entranced. I studied Goldsworthy’s artwork in detail. I tried to recreate some of his work, almost like serving an apprenticeship with a master. I wanted to see what he had discovered by following in his footsteps. I found out there is much more to land art than is first apparent. You can’t simply “copy” a sculpture, you need to understand nature — its cycles and processes, how materials change and grow. From that point on I discovered my own voice and a need to express it.

Educate us on your artistic methods; what’s the physical process like and why do you love it?
The process involves just wandering somewhere without any preconceived ideas. I will see a shapely rock or a beautiful leaf and it will inspire me to make something with it. The important part is the being there, the seeing of nature with open eyes and heart. Land art just allows you to immerse yourself even deeper in those things. The goal is to open my eyes more fully to what is there by setting myself the challenge of creating something from the materials I find. I have learnt endless things about thorns, how leaves change and so much more. Every time I go out and make something I discover new and wonderful things about nature. That is why I love it.

Tell us about your affinity for natural materials and the decidedly ecological nature of land art. Does this translate into your personal style and home also?
It’s the ephemeral nature of land art that really appeals to me. There is a point a sculpture reaches where it is at its most vibrant and it is then that I take the pictures and it is often just before it completely falls apart. There is a tension and vividness revealed through their delicateness. I think this is an analogy for life. Life creates order and beauty from basic building blocks and then they return back to dust once again.

Just as I seek to learn about natural places and materials I also want to learn about the cycles and processes too, and the ephemeral nature of land art helps me to do that through learning how things change and degrade. The more I do it the more conscious I become of our connection with nature, and how everything is intertwined and interconnected and how important it is that we do everything we can to reduce our impact. I hope in some small way that my work communicates some of that. But it can be as simple as seeing a leaf and thinking it is beautiful — it just follows from there. As for my home, I do have quite a number of leaf boxes, balls and spirals dotted about the place!

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a small collection of Nepali/Tibetan mandalas and Buddhist paintings or Thangka. One in particular was painted by Avaya Lama who is a renowned Buddhist monk and artist. It is very beautiful and sits proudly on my wall.

Do you have any advice for budding artists who want to give land art a go?
I try to encourage everyone I can to discover the joys of making land art. I have a website called Land Art for Kids, but it isn’t just for children: there are loads of ideas on there for anyone of any age to try their hand at making natural art sculptures. But most of it is about just getting out there and looking — finding the beautiful, colourful and intricate things in nature, and for them to inspire you. If you make something from them then all the better!

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Land art is about the doing, not the viewing of the end result. If you have any sort of love for nature then I encourage you to make your own. A few hours spent somewhere studying the materials you find and the place you are in can be magical, calming and peaceful. You will discover many things that you wouldn’t expect and each discovery will spur you on to make more. Don’t just take my word for it — go out there and see for yourself.

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  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Thats amazing, I'd never heard of land art before but its beautiful!

    4 years ago

  • MrsPetersonPottery

    MrsPetersonPottery says:

    Lovely. Consciousness is so nature born, I love seeing artists work in harmony with nature's forms and processes. Inspiring! I want more! Andy Goldsworthy is such an inspiration, it's wonderful to see others working in their own way and developing their own sense of creativity. Bring it home! XXOOXX

    4 years ago

  • batzy

    batzy says:

    Pretty great! Those photos rock!

    4 years ago

  • Emmamaha

    Emmamaha says:

    Breath-taking. I am familiar vaguely with some of the art work here and am always taken with their beauty and simplicity.

    4 years ago

  • Cowisland

    Cowisland says:

    Very nice article.

    4 years ago

  • picciolo

    picciolo says:

    What beautiful pieces, I really love the path through the woods and the leaves in ice. My seven year old made a flower out of shards of ice in our garden a few weeks ago, this article has inspired me to try something else and see what we come up with. Great article! : )

    4 years ago

  • laurelinsailor

    laurelinsailor says:

    Wonderful! I'm very impressed!

    4 years ago

  • cityroad

    cityroad says:

    Wow! & thank you Richard - I'm loving Landartforkids - planning to do some gardening with daughters this afternoon & I know they'll adore having a go at some of your ideas!!!! Another great interview Amity, thank you :-)

    4 years ago

  • sarahknightdesign

    sarahknightdesign says:

    Wow! Amazing works of art- Shilling is super talented. I love all of the nature elements in these pieces. Great article, giving the spotlight to a true artist:)

    4 years ago

  • BrillianceFound

    BrillianceFound says:

    Nature is already art; it's neat to see art being made out of nature in this way! Gorgeous collection of photos, very inspiring.

    4 years ago

  • moaningminnie

    moaningminnie says:

    wow fab article, fab artist, truly inspiring!

    4 years ago

  • Thitaree

    Thitaree says:

    Love the land art! Wow, amazing!!

    4 years ago

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts says:

    Great story and beautiful pieces!

    4 years ago

  • paperpeacock

    paperpeacock says:

    On a cold morning here this is just the inspiration I needed. Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • lazygiraffe

    lazygiraffe says:

    wow, great article and so impressive!

    4 years ago

  • masaoms

    masaoms says:

    Wow, amazing article, I loev LandArt!! ;-) Thanks for including my Gretel ring here!

    4 years ago

  • SchneiderGallery

    SchneiderGallery says:

    wow!! I'm speachless....

    4 years ago

  • NoMoreTwistHandmade

    NoMoreTwistHandmade says:

    thanks for an informative and inspiring post. i love the temporal nature of this art-- it is true to what it is inspired by, nature, who's art forms are constantly being built and destroyed, then reformed again.

    4 years ago

  • jewelrybyjackie

    jewelrybyjackie says:

    This work is absolutely stunning! So original. I love the idea of using nature to create art, and the fact that even though it may be impermanent, it is still worth while and beautiful.

    4 years ago

  • GallusTreeCreations

    GallusTreeCreations says:

    Love it, your work is beautiful, very inspiring,,

    4 years ago

  • CB78

    CB78 says:

    Stunning work.

    4 years ago

  • Minxshop

    Minxshop says:

    Goldsworthy is incredible. I watched a documentary on him, and it stupefied me to see how much time and patience was required for everything. I'd probably have a brain aneurysm trying to make anything remotely similar. It's really good to see that other's have been inspired by him AND not daunted by how much time and energy it takes. Beautiful work!

    4 years ago

  • thecyclingartist

    thecyclingartist says:

    Very interesting reading about the thought process behind the work - it's great to get the artist's insight when artwork is outside the traditional. Thanks Richard for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • FuzzyFish

    FuzzyFish says:

    so..... is he married ?!! LOVE his work.

    4 years ago

  • ClareBears

    ClareBears says:

    gorgeous! Stunning pieces.

    4 years ago

  • tomatored

    tomatored says:

    so so inspiring! A true artist can create something beautiful wherever they put themselves!

    4 years ago

  • Floreal

    Floreal says:

    Great read..such a different perspective on mundane things....love it

    4 years ago

  • wristcandycreations

    wristcandycreations says:

    What a fascinating read..and such incredible works of art! Thanks so much for sharing your story and best wishes on your continued successes.

    4 years ago

  • gufobardo

    gufobardo says:

    perfect for Spring! thank you, so inspiring

    4 years ago

  • asundrynotion

    asundrynotion says:

    Contemplative concept, zen-like practice & sublime images = beauty. So well done. Richard's Landartforkids.com should have received a bit more attention since it's a perfect continuation of Etsy's Ecoliteracy for children feature, Tuesday, 04/06: http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/how-tuesday-passing-down-ecoliteracy-to-the-next-generation-7450/

    4 years ago

  • etincelledesign

    etincelledesign says:

    decidedly stunning work - thank you for this introduction !

    4 years ago

  • vanrobmac

    vanrobmac says:

    Wow! Truly beautiful!

    4 years ago

  • LazyTcrochet

    LazyTcrochet says:

    Beautiful!

    4 years ago

  • artofjane

    artofjane says:

    So totally cool!! I love everything about land art, especially the transitory nature of it - but I'm really glad he gets the photos to share!

    4 years ago

  • HandmadeFlowers

    HandmadeFlowers says:

    Talented artist and inspirational art.

    4 years ago

  • pogoshop

    pogoshop says:

    Oh wow! I'm nuts about escher1's work and and have loved the Andy Goldsworthy books for years. I think of these artists often when I wander the woods, looking for small spots and details. When you begin looking closely, you see amazing things that you might formerly have tromped right over. I'm delighted to read more about this neat artist and his process. There are so many great metaphors for life in his work that dawn on you while you enjoy the beauty.

    4 years ago

  • VirtuoSew

    VirtuoSew says:

    I'm amazed every day by the talent on Etsy. Your work is amazing Richard!

    4 years ago

  • NeedSomeBling

    NeedSomeBling says:

    This is the first time I ever heard of land art. Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • Ayca

    Ayca says:

    Great article!

    4 years ago

  • nomadcraftsetc

    nomadcraftsetc says:

    This is the coolest post ever! I love it! Guess what we will be doing on our weekly hikes? My kids and husband will love getting involved with the landart! How cool! Thank you so much for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • fancy4u

    fancy4u says:

    beautiful work, i'm in awe....

    4 years ago

  • redsofa

    redsofa says:

    thank you for sharing :)

    4 years ago

  • Tumus

    Tumus says:

    wow! all of those sculptures are AMAZING! How beautiful :) It makes me love nature even more ^_^ Thank you for finding this amazing artist and interviewing him!!

    4 years ago

  • adrienneaudrey

    adrienneaudrey says:

    very cool. Beautiful work

    4 years ago

  • GreenRoomStudios

    GreenRoomStudios says:

    amazing work, what a talented artist!

    4 years ago

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie says:

    Wonderful interview. He's the new Goldsworthy. If people like this work they will love "Rivers and Tides" a movie made about Goldsworthy's process. Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • ladaworks

    ladaworks says:

    Inspiring work.

    4 years ago

  • YouAreYou

    YouAreYou says:

    Pretty amazing!

    4 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    Wow neat! When I was little I used to make "nature artwork" stuff and things outside all the time.. never knew it could be termed "land art". Fun! Pretty images and a very inspiring read. Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • aemcdraw

    aemcdraw says:

    Amazing work!

    4 years ago

  • bialakura

    bialakura says:

    very talented artist! leaves sculptures are wonderful:)

    4 years ago

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares says:

    creative work. the contrast in colors and textures is wonderful to look at.

    4 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    What fascinating work! How many times has one picked up a leaf or stone and wish they could do something with it!

    4 years ago

  • SilkstoneDesigns

    SilkstoneDesigns says:

    Wow this work is absolutely amazing, so beautiful! Go Lancashire!!!!!

    4 years ago

  • ClementinesJewelry

    ClementinesJewelry says:

    wonderful story!

    4 years ago

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions says:

    Wow! Really cool stuff!!

    4 years ago

  • jamieribisi

    jamieribisi says:

    Goldsworthy is one of my favorite artists-- a great man to follow and study!

    4 years ago

  • BayMoonDesign

    BayMoonDesign says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I recently heard from a British cousin of mine who found me through researching family history and I am now using Google Earth to learn where all my ancestors lived in Great Britain so I appreciate your locating where you loved and describing the geography. Your works are fantastic and reflect your heritage and environment.

    4 years ago

  • Panterina

    Panterina says:

    lovely work!

    4 years ago

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations says:

    I love Andy Goldsworthy's work and it is great to see Escher1's take on land art. I can see how Goldsworthy's work inspires him but I can also see his own artistic voice. Very cool. Also, a fantastic photographer who understands finding the right moment.

    4 years ago

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage says:

    thanks for the inspiration...love your work!

    4 years ago

  • RebeccaBarfoot

    RebeccaBarfoot says:

    Both Escher1 and Goldsworthy celebrate the working process over absolute outcome- that's worth remembering as we spend our days crafting. Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • HibouCards

    HibouCards says:

    I love land art... Goldsworthy being my favorite land artist :) Nice article and great picks

    4 years ago

  • Whimsywares

    Whimsywares says:

    This is the most inspired I have been from seeing photos is a long while! Beautiful work ;)

    4 years ago

  • astarteearthart

    astarteearthart says:

    from earth art to land art, simply beautiful!!

    4 years ago

  • nowonder

    nowonder says:

    Impressive!

    4 years ago

  • niftyknits

    niftyknits says:

    so amazing - wonderful to read about someone who works in such a unique field. off to look at the website now, and hopefully to look at the world through wider-open eyes.

    4 years ago

  • MoTwisted

    MoTwisted says:

    Wow... my sons and I like to go for walks in the woods around our home. One of the things we like to do is make faces in the dirt with twigs, leaves, rocks, snail shells, etc. Your artwork reveals a true spiritual connection with nature. I thoroughly enjoyed this article.

    4 years ago

  • Iovelycrochet

    Iovelycrochet says:

    How beautiful..! It makes me love nature even more...

    4 years ago

  • friedasophie

    friedasophie says:

    Wow, fantastic pictures

    4 years ago

  • ZhongFuJewelryDesign

    ZhongFuJewelryDesign says:

    I am glad to see this! I saw a documentary on Andy Goldsworthy several years ago and it deeply impressed me. My son immediately went outside to make landscape art, after seeing it.

    4 years ago

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik says:

    thank you for sharing Richard! I believe, the beauty here is in the process of making more then the final product.

    4 years ago

  • VedaArts

    VedaArts says:

    belle!

    4 years ago

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat says:

    Wow, wow and wow! I had no idea this process even had a name! It's something I've always done, even in the garden... where I'll spend 3 hours creating something I think is beautiful instead of doing something "useful" like digging over the veggie patch! LOL

    4 years ago

  • Tias

    Tias says:

    Wow, quite impressive work!

    4 years ago

  • jennapritchard

    jennapritchard says:

    love his work, its great to see people exploring and enhancing the natural landscape.

    4 years ago

  • Mossmottle

    Mossmottle says:

    Great article! I love the inclusiveness and more focus on the process rather than the "product" :-)

    4 years ago

  • jeniferglagowski

    jeniferglagowski says:

    Andy Goldsworthy is a favorite of mine. Thank you for directing me to Richard's work!

    4 years ago

  • pasin

    pasin says:

    perfect for spring

    4 years ago

  • vaivanat

    vaivanat says:

    Love him. Can imagine how meditative his creating process is. I know similar artist - Hannah Streefkerk, she loves to work with natural materials as well: http://www.waanwaar.nl/index.php?id=2&idsub=1

    4 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    Beautiful!

    4 years ago

  • Simonka

    Simonka says:

    This is so interesting and amazing. Unique art at its best!

    4 years ago

  • diannek

    diannek says:

    You took my breath away just wonderful

    4 years ago

  • fluxplay

    fluxplay says:

    Wow, I love land art, there's lots down here in Devon and Cornwall, but I've never heard of this guy before!!!!So thankyou VERY much for introducing me to this fella, can't wait to investigate.

    4 years ago

  • Fishstikks

    Fishstikks says:

    Absolutely wonderful!!

    4 years ago

  • bookwright

    bookwright says:

    So nice to see Richard's work featured on Etsy after some recent withdrawal and negative comments. I love his work and although it is commonly identified with the Goldsworthy influence - his work is truly one of a kind and I enjoy it.

    4 years ago

  • JazzGreen

    JazzGreen says:

    This is a very thoughtful interview... thanks.... Provides a good insight into his own working methods, together with the acknowledgment of Andy Goldsworthy as inspiration....

    4 years ago

  • zoeest

    zoeest says:

    So up my street, Great article! your doing a fab job!

    4 years ago

  • salvagedmutiny

    salvagedmutiny says:

    I have always loved Andy Goldsworthy and it is nice to see that there is a new generation continuing Land Art! Absolutely beautiful!!

    4 years ago

  • thaiamuletluckbuddha

    thaiamuletluckbuddha says:

    thanks for the show great idea...love it.

    4 years ago

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