Art in the environment: Creating ephemeral art

Jean Edwards, Jim Atkinson, Belinda Green

Monday 3rd October 2016

10.15 - 11.15 and 2.00 til 3.00

Starting point (inspiration)

Creating ephemeral art - using what we find

Anthony Goldsworthy, a British land artist, likes to create his art using only the materials that are present in the environment. His tools are his hands and found tools already present  in the environment. He said:

“I want an intimate physical involvement with the earth. I must touch. I take nothing out with me in the way of tools, glue or rope, preferring to explore the natural bonds and tensions that exist within the earth. The season and weather conditions determine to a large extent what I make. I enjoy relying on the seasons to provide new materials.”

Ephemeral art exists only for a short while and will be changed and removed by the environment (weather, animals, humans). This makes the recording by digital technology vital.


To use materials we find to create an ephemeral work of art / installation.

To record and share digitally so other people in other places can experience them.

Task / activity

In pairs or on your own

Look around for some materials to use to create your installation.

You might base your installation on one of the visual elements (see cue cards).

Tips and ideas:

  • Consider how your installation will sit within the environment - obvious, partially hidden, accessible via a clue?
  • Techniques for joining - threading, weaving, placing, balancing, repetition,
  • Try it out in different formations before you settle on a design
  • Record using digital technology - photograph it or photograph making it in sequence from beginning to end and arrange in a Pic Collage
  • Make a ‘virtual’ installation by photographing each element and presenting them in a pic collage.

Over a longer period you might return and keep photographing the deterioration and change over time.

Reflection and feedback (including recording / capture)

This art exists only the device and where you share it, ultimately it leaves no trace on the environment - what are the benefits and challenges of this?

How would this be different in an urban environment vs a rural environment?

How would this activity change according to the environment? (seasons, rural vs urban)

How does this link to other sub themes? (science outdoors)

How does this link to learning in the curriculum? (science, mathematics)

Capture and share:

Upload the photos to the Padlet with a title and reflective comment

Resources (physical , technological, links, images)

Tablet or phone

Apps / tools: camera, photo editor, pic collage,

Examples of Andy Goldsworthy art on a Padlet

Laminated cards of visual elements / egs from Andy Goldsworthy

Thinglink of visual elements definitions linked to AG’s art: 

QR code link to this plan:





 defining an area on a flat    

 surface: this could be geometrical (a circle) or less precise




 the space around forms and in the environment in 3d and the  

   illusion of space created on a flat surface






anything three dimensional: this maybe be solid or hollow




light reflecting or emitting  from an object





how a surface feels when we touch it or making a flat surface appear to be textured







the effects of light on a surface: moving from lighter to darker, contrast and gradual transition




 placing marks or objects to create a design: repeating, rotating or random




marks on a surface: as small as dots or dashes or flowing and continuous






visual elements


  These ideas or concepts underpin making and talking about art.