Most artists carry with them the bare minimum tools of their trade. A pen and paper always come in handy to make a quick sketch, write an idea for a story, or jot down a deep thought. Jon Foreman, on the other hand, doesn’t need anything. The world is his canvass, and he makes artistic arrangements with anything he finds on the beach.
The beach is Foreman’s happy place, having grown up on the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales. His artistic collaboration with nature started with sand, using found objects on the coast such as rocks, leaves, and driftwood to make arrangements that might be temporary, but last forever in images and in the mind of people who are fortunate enough to see them.
Foreman makes beautiful exhibitions out of broken glass, ash, and other debris, but stone is a favorite material because of its surprising versatility. He said, “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.”
Foreman’s numerous stunning natural arrangements comprise a project he calls Sculpt the World. There is no end goal in mind when he heads to the beach to create outdoor art, and ideas usually flow from found objects and the area’s natural features.
“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.” The project is thus a boundless world of spontaneity, experimentation, and creativity!
And cathartic, as well. He stated, “This process is therapy to me. 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.”
Rocks arranged in swirling patterns and giant circles generally form the rainbow-like and eye-pleasing arrangements that mark Foreman’s artistry. Though quite relaxing, these wondrous formations do take a lot of work. Nature is constantly on the move, and Foreman has to contend with changes in the weather and movement of the tides.
Working in a public spaces also means that he has to cooperate with beachgoers, too!
But these just make the artworks even more interesting, and more artistically challenging to Foreman. “People often ask if it bothers me that the work has to disappear eventually,” he shared. “To that, I say, ‘Not at all.’ If anything, the fact that it’s short-lived makes it more special to me.”
Interestingly, Foreman often stays to see the waves reclaim the beach material that make up his artwork. It might seem sad and melancholic, but the artist chooses to appreciate the beauty of his art’s lifespan.
“I try to stay to see the work get erased and capture the moment of impact. 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.”
The resulting art formations may not last, but they are certainly striking. Even with a tight time element in mind, they seem thoughtful, serene, and completely in tune with their surroundings. With any luck, you might see these remarkable art pieces on your next beach trip! Those who are not so lucky will have to be satisfied viewing the sculptures on Foreman’s Facebook, Instagram, and website.