The drawings in this exhibition are made with snowballs, ice and natural materials from different locations:
Borrowdale graphite, Borrowdale slate, Derwent water, Drumlanrig clay, Pit clay and earth from the source of the Scaur River, Penpont.
The process of the snowballs melting on watercolour paper and forming the drawings echoes processes in the natural world: erosion, sedimentation, ice and flow.
The visual structure and colour qualities thus produced are extraordinary. The Snowball Drawings have two main sources.
The first arctic snowballs of 1989 resulted from an experience Goldsworthy had while out hunting with his Inuit guide Luti and his son. Coming across a breathing hole in the ice pack, Luti circled around it at a distance, moving in towards the hole, while his son stood ready with his gun in anticipation of the rising seal.
Dark blood dripped and trailed in the snow as the sledge moved off, carrying carcass and hunters. The seal was caught by the hunter’s instinct and knowledge of its survival habits.
The second source for The Snowball Drawings was an experience made by Goldsworthy following an exhibition at Glasgow’s Tramway. His large snowballs which gradually melting during the course of the show, left an after image caused by the impurities in the snowball.
On another occasion in the arctic, Goldsworthy and his guides came across a polar bear’s tracks in the snow. Running parallel to this were the tracks of a mechanised skidou. Luti’s comment was simply “dead bear”.
This experience of immersion in the natural world continues with The Snowball Drawings, but other questions arise. In the drawing with graphite from Borrowdale – one of the main sources for his material – there is a dual process: on the one hand natural, on the other with the artist’s participation. Who or what, is making the drawing?
Such questions lead onto the conference to be held at Manchester University in parallel with this exhibition, Chaos and Order. They also embrace another set of Goldsworthy drawings, The Throws, in which spontaneity, change and order are invoked and juggled.