Cone – Andy Goldsworthy (1992)

‘Cone’ may surprise those who associate Andy Goldsworthy with more ephemeral, hand-made constructions of leaves, earth, grasses or flowers. This enormous chunk of scrap metal must be worth a small fortune, surprising perhaps that Denis, Oz and the boys have not been asked to move it, to somewhere it might be more widely appreciated.

Expressing a strong affinity with nature, these works use materials found on site, and are left to slowly disintegrate. Goldsworthy has an internal reputation for works in landscape involving natural materials – from maple in Japan to ice in the North Pole. In more urbanised environments such as Gateshead, more resilient materials appropriate to the site ensure that works are similarly rooted in the unique character of the place.

Built in 1992 on an old foundry site, west of the High Level Bridge, Cone’s solid, four-metre-high structure is assembled from layers of steel plate. Despite industrial associations, the steel’s rawness retains qualities of the earth it came from, and the irregular structure evokes organic growth. Cone’s essential energy draws equally on the nature of steel and of a site, once industrial and inhabited, now grown over and wooded. Cone is one of a series sited in France, South Australia and Dumfriesshire, made respectively from limestone, pebbles and slate.