This past weekend I was privileged to hear the sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy, talk about his work and the new installation of a wall he constructed locally. He began by talking about the first wall he built over thirty years ago, and told us it had been created in Scotland on land he leased from a farmer. It was built out of necessity. The farmer wanted a wall to contain his sheep and as a condition of leasing the land, Andy agreed to build the wall. But he did it while being acutely aware of the social nature of the landscape, and as a result he wanted the wall to have “give and take”. Therefore instead of dividing the property by building a wall straight down the middle, he literally created one that required a physical giving and taking of the land.
That concept got me thinking about co-parenting and restructured families after divorce. Oftentimes when people begin working with me they tell me that they want 50:50 custody. That always leads us to a discussion about children not being property or divisible assets, and then a further discussion ensues about their children’s unique needs, schedules, sensitivities and best interests. It becomes less a discussion of shared time and more a discussion about crafting the best possible homes for their children.
Co-parenting is a “give and take” wall.
Andy then discussed how his work began with impermanence as a theme. He would create something in nature, perhaps out of leaves or twigs or stone, something that time would inevitably alter. After creating whatever it was he was making, he would photograph it and then his work was done. Time and the elements would take care of the rest.
Eventually his work evolved to the creation of stone sculptures, and working in stone made him consider the geological and human passage of time. He cited two examples of that interplay. First, he described to us the meticulously maintained wall he built at Storm King in New York, and talked of it as perhaps being loved a bit too much. He then recalled one of his first projects, built long ago in Scotland, and how it had been largely ignored and was now overgrown and had taken on a life of its own. He described it as “a bit refreshing”. He seemed to like the idea that what were once new seedlings had now become trees, and other forest elements and animals had taken up residence in the wall.
It seems to me that both walls represent the next generation. One adheres strictly to its immediate forbears and strives to continue its traditions, and the other, more of a free spirit, grows in tandem with nature.
Both are supported by their undulating walls….Co-parenting is a “give and take”.