DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum announces “Watershed,” a site-specific, permanent commission by Andy Goldsworthy opening to the public on Nov. 9.

DeCordova is the only public institution in New England with an outdoor work by the internationally renowned British artist.

Throughout his career, Goldsworthy has explored the power of water and how its force, energy and impact respond to the rhythm of weather and have strong and powerful consequences for the landscape. Partially-embedded in the slope of deCordova’s pond-side hill, “Watershed” is a site-specific work designed to interact with deCordova’s unique environment and feature the natural flow of water. Using local materials and the expert assistance of Goldsworthy’s team of British wallers, the 9-by-15-foot granite stone structure is built in a vernacular style, echoing stone walls and structures found throughout New England. On the structure’s interior rear wall, stonework radiates in concentric circles from a drain outlet centered in the wall — an evocation of water’s energy and pattern.

“When a project like ‘Watershed’ is finished, that’s the beginning of its life. The life that my sculptures have are so dependent on people — not as an audience, but as part of the work. Without people being in there to activate the space, it will not work,” says Goldsworthy. “I’d love that in the future when bad weather is forecast, rather than saying ‘I’m not going to deCordova today,’ people say ‘let’s go to deCordova today.’”

In times of heavy rain, water that flows across deCordova’s paved upper lot is collected and channeled underground to pour from the outlet in the work’s rear wall, giving form to the usually unremarked course of groundwater across hard surfaces and allowing people to see and hear the work come to life. In dry weather the wall stands expectantly, waiting to be activated. The work serves to illustrate both the impermanence and the lasting effects of water, through the growth of residues like mineral deposits, moss and patina.

“We are thrilled to start welcoming visitors to ‘Watershed’ — a unique and unforgettable intersection of art and nature that can be experienced throughout all seasons and in all types of weather,” says John Ravenal, Trustees’ vice president for arts & culture and artistic director, deCordova. “It was an honor to work with Andy Goldsworthy on this significant, permanent addition to deCordova’s Sculpture Park, and we look forward to watching it evolve in the years to come.”

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