Land artist Jon Foreman finds comfort in arranging stones in eye-pleasing formations on the beach. His practice, which he calls Sculpt the World, showcases rocks fashioned into swirling patterns as well as giant circles containing an array of rainbow-esque hues. “This process is therapy to me,” Foreman tells My Modern Met. “The simple act of placing stone upon stone in the sand is very therapeutic. I’m sure we all enjoy a walk on the beach but this process I find to be more immersive; being there in nature, losing myself in the work, having left behind all the stresses of day to day life.”
Foreman lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which is home to a generous coastline. “The beaches here are truly exceptional and there are so many,” he explains, “I doubt I’ve even visited half of them.” Upon his arrival at a beach, he plans to spend four hours there (on average) to create his work of art. Often, this is with only partial planning of what the finished piece will look like. “Sometimes I will have an idea of what I’d like to try but I very rarely draw it out fully. I quite like not knowing exactly how it will turn out until it’s there in front of me.” While many might find it intimidating to work without a plan, Foreman finds the unknown comforting. By having no preconceived notions of what he’ll create, he finds that he’s more likely to experiment and develop new facets of his work.
Arranging with stone has shown Foreman some of its unexpected qualities. He’s noticed that rock, despite its solidity, changes when grouped together; they become “malleable,” Foreman reveals. “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.”
Land art is ephemeral and will eventually be reclaimed by the earth from which it came. “It often becomes a race towards the end as the waves draw closer,” Foreman says. “I try to stay to see the work get erased and capture the moment of impact.” It could be a poignant time, but Foreman chooses to see the beauty in his work’s short lifespan. “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.”