Nature is the greatest artist in the universe with flowers, valleys, lakes and mountains being some of her best creations. She’s also one of the biggest art suppliers in the world and gives everything free of cost to those who can see its raw beauty. Dietmar Voorwold, a German artist living in Scotland is one of them who have been gifted to see the hidden beauty amongst the scattered stones and leaves at the riverbanks and forests. Dietmar then creates beautiful and organic artworks by arranging them into various graphical and geometric forms and patterns. Dietmar calls it ‘landart’.
Dietmar defines landart in his website as “a way of art, which became popular in the 60s. It`s a part of the social departure of that era, which has changed society, politics and culture radically. Landart, originally called Earth Art or Earth works, uses nature as the immediate canvas for visual art. The intentional integration of landscape into the process of creativity opened new doors of expression. One of the most popular representatives of Landart is Andy Goldsworthy, who became famous with his worldwide landscape-installations, photographs and books.”
Landart of Dietmar can also be called environment art as it’s deeply connected with environment. On his landart making trips, Dietmar usually doesn’t carry any material with him except his camera. He searches for most of the material around the site and visualizes how he can make a best use of them. After the completion of his artwork and clicking a few pictures, he leaves it behind and it can stays there for a long time unless disturbed by animals or vandalized by humans. It’s a thing of beauty but not a joy forever. Nevertheless it serves a valuable purpose until it lasts and brings peace and harmony to everyone who sees it. In this way it has a deep alleviating effect and a prominent aspect of his art.
Born in 1957, Dietmar studied Graphics and Photography in Düsseldorf and completed further education for Art Therapy at the Institute for Humanistic Psychology (IHP) in Eschweiler, Germany in 1998. He is a strong believer and advocate of therapeutic value of art and holds art therapy classes for people wherein he teaches and guides them to create their own landart. He also worked many years with children, handicapped people and adults in educational and therapeutic institutions in Germany, Holland and Great Britain. His main focus has been on self-expression, joy and inspiration.
In 2002, Dietmar founded the Atelier Spurensuche Project in Wipperfuerth (GER) and in 2008 he settled down in Scotland, where he now live for most of the year. Since then he has concentrated on outdoor installations. He says, “LandArt – art in and with nature – has become an essential part of my work. Nature offers everything necessary for an aesthetic work of art, i.e. materials to create something, colours, light and a vast open canvas. Here I can live out my creative passion without limitation, enabling the movement of freedom and the pleasure of breathing deeply.”
Dietmar spends a lot of time along the coasts of Morayshire in the North of Scotland, where nature, sometimes during the course of a single day, moves through ever changing qualities in colour, light and weather, thus creating a lively spectacle throughout the sky and the interplay with earth. He also expresses his love of landscape through the art of Photography. The impermanence of his work, however, is also a very appealing aspect of making Landart creations, as it is simply part of nature. Dietmar shares with us some key aspects of his art, its process of making and its therapeutic effects:
During my life I visited Greece many times. I love the warmth, the sun, the beautiful sea and the whole culture. And of course we spent a lot of time relaxing on the beaches, swimming, sunbathing, reading and having an easy time. But I always like to do something. I started to play with the sand, the pebbles or whatever I could find around. It is part of my artistic inclination to create something. So the first mosaics arose and I improved that playful habit more and more and – just for fun – kept hold of it through photography.
A strong connection to the beauty of the Scottish landscape came later, I went there again and again, worked outside with what I could find, integrated it into the surroundings and found new ways to live my art in Nature. A few years ago I settled down in the north of Scotland and live there now most of the year.
Fresh air and a wide open canvas are valuable aspects. And it is inspiring, not only for me. For example: children love it. As long as they don’t appear in packs, they can hardly contain their amazement. Judy, a little eight-year-old English girl, was standing next to me, almost devoutly, watching me for hours and without a word, to see what I was up to. The following day she had marked off her own canvas, putting colourful butterflies into the burning sand. I felt very proud. Besides, in moments like these I know that the importance of my work goes beyond myself and my audience, that is has educational value too. It stimulates creativity and self-development. Those moments are energizing and make me happy.
Working with art is always therapeutic, in every moment. I believe that we all are creative beings, and expressing ourselves creatively is a deeply satisfying experience, be it with little moulds, little sieves and little shovels, or later with paints, clay, dance, voice, instruments or computer programmes. The power of creativity is limitless. For me, expressing both inner and outer beauty is the essence of creativity, which is really what I wish to communicate, to the world and to my fellow human beings.
The short-living character of my installations always create a feeling of “letting go”. Creating something and letting go again. Not holding something, getting stuck to it, but allowing the change, the transformation, which takes place in life every moment. This is a very therapeutic aspect of my way of creating art. It is just for the moment.
For me, there are three crucial aspects in dealing with LandArt, as I’ve come to realise: The characteristics of a place, the natural materials at hand, and finally the form emerging from it. Three aspects I warmly recommend to all the participants in my workshops. Place, materials and form are important components for an artwork in nature.
The sequence is irrelevant. I may have a clear idea for a particular sculpture first and then find the right material and finally a suitable place for it. Or I may come across some amazing stones, then inwardly imagine a certain shape and finally look for a place. What comes first doesn’t really matter. All that does matter is keeping these components in mind.
Photography might be added as a forth element. Seeing a landscape through the camera’s eye is quite often the first impression I get, in portrait or landscape format, that is, and rather from a worm’s or bird’s-eye view, or the golden section, etc. Usually everything looks quite different in the end, but since my art lives through the medium of photography, I’m well accustomed to that in a way.
My installations blend flawlessly into the landscape and often appear to have been there forever. Harmony is important to me, as well as handling the gifts of nature with due respect. Despite all the challenges involved in working with nature, I continue venturing out with unblemished enthusiasm. I am simply following the call of my soul. So whether I like it or not, nature is the true and never-ending source of my inspiration, my grandest stage. Here I feel free and at home. To work with her, and in her, is a tremendous gift. In a word, my artistic work has something to do with peace, i.e. peace with nature, with the weather, the stones, the light and the inscrutable ocean… Peace with myself.