News Home & Design Sculptor Weaves Stones, Shells, and Leaves Into Spellbinding Patterns This environmental artist works with natural materials to create ephemeral works of art that are eventually washed away. By Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who covered architecture and the arts for Treehugger starting in 2007. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Kimberley Mok Published December 11, 2020 03:46PM EST Jon Foreman Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices For many of us, "art" is often thought of as something that hangs on the pristine, whitewashed walls of a gallery -- something lofty and inaccessible. But art – as a creative practice – is always changing and evolving, much like the artists who seem to channel something new and fresh into existence with each passing epoch. Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, the land art movement emerged as a response to the over-commercialization of art, reflecting a growing awareness of humanity's ecological impact. This new genre of "environmental art" saw artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Nils Udo, Agnes Dene, and Robert Smithson experiment with materials like stones, leaves, and wood, often integrating the cyclic nature of processes like tides, water currents, and more into their often large-scale art pieces. Continuing to push the environmental art envelope is Jon Foreman, a sculptor based out of the United Kingdom. Jon Foreman Utilizing a variety of objects found in the forests and on the beaches of Pembrokeshire, Wales, Foreman creates earthworks that feature mesmerizing patterns that seem to harmonize the randomness of stone, sand, and leaves with an overarching sense of order and purpose. Jon Foreman For Foreman, sculpting these works of natural art is a therapeutic process. "For me it is often just a form of meditation, it keeps my mental health in check and gets me away from messy everyday life," he says. Jon Foreman His works can range from smaller in size to giant works that are 164 feet (50 meters) across. As one can imagine, often the works and their creation are subject to the vicissitudes of nature: a rising tide will wash away and erase a huge work of art raked into the sand, or the wind and rain will come and destroy a fragile sculpture made of leaves. Sometimes it's a human passerby kicking over carefully arranged stones, breaking the spell of beautiful orderliness. But Foreman's approach is to work with the time that nature gives him, and to appreciate an artwork's beauty during its short lifespan. Jon Foreman It often takes Foreman a good several hours to construct his artworks, typically with only a bit of pre-planning. As Foreman tells Treehugger, the idea is to also allow uncertainty and the unknown inform the process and the end result: "The creative process can be very different with each work. Sometimes I have an idea that I'd like to try, other times I don't know what I'm going to create so I allow the process to guide me." Jon Foreman Foreman's influences include a number of land artists like James Brunt, Michael Grab, Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. Currently, Foreman finds himself bringing in other influences like those found in op art (short for "optical art"), which features abstract patterns and optical illusions. Jon Foreman "I'm increasingly taking influence from art, and more specifically sculpture outside of land art such as op art, which plays on the eyes, and Architecture that influences large-scale works and differing forms." Jon Foreman One can definitely see this new influence with Foreman's handling of stones and shells, arranged in varying sizes, twisted into swirling vortexes, or woven into undulating waves. Jon Foreman He says that the idea is to play with what's available on site, to work with a material's natural qualities, and to then add an extra, unexpected layer of wonder. "If I'm creating stone work I choose beaches that tend to have either a variety of colour or a variety of size to choose from. This allows me to explore more with the material. With stone something that I love is that when used singularly they are solid and unyielding, but when used in mass they become malleable." Jon Foreman Foreman's ephemeral work is not only visually appealing and somehow soothing to look at, but it also serves to remind us that nature is not something wholly chaotic, nor inaccessible. It's out there to be appreciated and interacted with – something to be pondered and treasured. But in the end, when the high tide comes in, nature will always take back that which was given – yet as Foreman points out, it's a chance to start over, and to begin something new again. To see more of Jon Foreman's artworks, visit his website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.