Giving back to nature in the form of art is one of the most amazing thing someone can do for our planet. Jon Foreman is one of these artists. Being a creator of various styles of Land Art, he is continuously in search of the “different.” The artist discovered Land Art/Sculpture while in college, but he feels his creative play with materials and innovative ideas is something which started long before. His project, Sculpt the World, features various styles of land art and modern sculpture, among which are fascinating stone art which he creates by the shore.
Foreman resides in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which is home to some of the finest beaches in the world. Growing up there, he saw the beauty of the Pembrokeshire coastline and woodlands, and this is where most of his works take place. The materials he uses range from tiny pebbles to big rocks to driftwood. At the same time, the scale of his work varies largely, from something small and minimal to massive sand drawings of up to 50 meters across.
Foreman’s enchanting creations bring to life the unique and almost hidden beauty of stones. Working with stones has made him realize some of their unexpected qualities.
“There are so many ways of working with stone; the color, the size, the shape the angle it is placed, the direction it faces, endless possibilities. Although stone isn’t my only material of choice, it is currently my favorite as it presents so many different opportunities,” mentioned Foreman.
Expanding on the swirling patterns he’s famous for, many of his recent works take on minimal, geometric formations in diagonal stripes or colorful, concentric circles. These mesmerizing arrangements embedded in the sand and sprawling on grassy patches always leave beachgoers in awe. Each work is precise in composition, perfectly matching size, hue, and shape into hypnotic works that contrast the man-made construction with their organic backdrops.
Often, he would start with nothing but partial planning of the finished piece in mind. Indeed, Foreman finds comfort in the unknown and, it is the uncertainty of the outcome of his creation that pushes him to experiment more and explore other possibilities. In fact, it’s all part of his creative process, which he finds therapeutic.
“Typically, I either start with a rough idea of what I’d like to do or no idea whatsoever! Then I collect what I can carry and start by placing stone by stone, steadily losing myself in the process and disconnecting from the stress of everyday life.”
On average, he spends four hours to complete one masterpiece. The artist arranges his ephemeral stone artworks, knowing that they’ll be washed away by the tide or kicked over by passersby. He mentioned how it often becomes a “race” against the waves that are waiting to wash away his masterpiece. Nonetheless, he still chooses to witness this bittersweet moment and just see the beauty in it.
“I create using material that is made from that environment for that environment. The tide washes it all back to the tide line, and I come back the next day with an empty canvas to work with. People often ask if it bothers me that the work has to disappear eventually. To that, I say: not at all. If anything, the fact that it’s short-lived makes it more special to me.”
The artist really took his work to the next level in 2018 when he participated in the Llano Earth Art Fest. “There, I met around 30 artists whom I have known online for years but never met in person. This festival is responsible for so much development in the field, and I am extremely grateful for it. Partly due to this festival, land art has developed a really tight and positive community in the last few years.”
However, their community has been targeted by news articles which, as far as Foreman can tell, have been nothing more than opinions. “Many people read it, then took it to be fact. These articles claim that what we create is damaging to the environment and creatures that may be living there. I absolutely oppose this as we are creating work with nature and if anything, we do it to show that it needs protecting.”
“Just as an example, these stone creations are made only a few feet away from where I collected them. The tide then comes and washes them back to where they came from. How is that damaging?” the artist asked. “Any creatures that live in this environment (I almost never come across any) will be used to such turbulent conditions, and me moving rocks will make no difference at all. The creatures that do live in these conditions will not be settling down to make homes. They are constantly moving like the tide does.”
“Take a step away from the outdoors. Look at the materials around you. Where have they come from? The batteries that are in our phones/laptops are made from materials that have been mined from the ground. The cars we drive, the paper we use, the art supplies I would otherwise be using if I wasn’t using materials outdoors. All this is more damaging to the environment than anything I do.”