Wood Line


What is art?  I know I won’t answer the question fully, but part of youth is asking and attempting to answer so here it goes.  I don’t ascribe to the belief that art is what is pleasing to the eye or something that must be beyond the creativity and ability of a 5 year old.  I’m of the Scott McCloud school where art is an apple with a core full of “thought” and “significance” seeds that plant ideas in people through the flesh, some medium/structure.  Good art forces you to have ideas and think but also has some inherent meaning intended by the author (which may or may not line up with your initial understanding).

Getting to Andy Goldsworthy, his wood line is a homage to nature’s relationship with man.  Instead of a typical jarring trail that cuts into a hill that clearly defines man from nature, wood line is an organic path that compliments the trees surrounding and encourages the Presidio goer to adventurer further.  It’s very easy to mistake the line as a natural extension of the woodlands, not a man-made entity.

Looking up, the eucalyptus towering over the grounded line display the trees’ authority as well as protect the line from the elements.  It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.  And the juxtaposition of the ruler-straight trees and slithering line creates visual dissonance and a wonderful texture in an otherwise ordinary area.


The interactive design built into the work caters to all audiences.  Nobody I saw could help smiling as they ran up, jumped off, fell off, photographed instagrammed, lindy hopped or plopped on the wood.  There, a tempo exists as your feet or eyes follow the sinuous line.  And I think that ties into Goldworthy’s note that “a lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it.”

From Google, I learned more about the construction of such a design.  Goldworthy commonly uses surrounding bodies in his pieces and, for this, used eucalyptus branches that were being removed and discarded from other parts of the park.  He utilized unwanted materials and remained with his philosophy of building, all while not disturbing the standing grove where the line sits today.


According to a press release, “like many of the Goldworthy’s site-specific works, the materials will decompose and return to the earth over time.”  The cyclic and ephemeral nature of his work facilitates harmony between humans and nature.  And for the first time, Presidio goers see the trees in their full tree-being.



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