Arts & Health

Thinking of Andy Goldsworthy. Cold and artworks.

During the summer holidays and following Andy Goldsworthy as a referent in Ephemeraworks, I made a simple and discreet experimental intervention on the nature related with thermal stress on body and how can it influence the process of sculpture working.

Andy Goldsworthy. Curved sticks surround a river boulder in Woody Creek, Colo. (Sept. 16, 2006)

The place where I made it was in the river Carol, at the edge of the town of Latour de Querol, on August 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

Just like Goldsworthy worked without  protective gloves. This artist avoids body protection because of the loss of sensibility while making the sculptures.

In general, old people has less cold tolerance than young due to enlightenment of the body temperature regulation mechanisms. In general terms, women has more cold tolerance than men, because of the isolation produced by the thickness of subcutaneous fat. The rate at which the feet and hands cool is greater than that of the rest of the body, thus increasing the risk of injury at this level.

The contact with cold mediums cools for convection. The temperature capsizing the physical and chemical properties of the internal tissues (slows metabolism and delays the transmission of nervous signals affecting the muscular function) producing a loss of artistry and efficiency at the movements. 

It produces a vasoconstriccion too (blood vessels become narrow), specially at the distal parts of the body which aggravates the muscular function due to reduction of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle.

The precision of hands movements can be affected when the temperature of the fingers is between 30-31ºC. Working in cold water, the loss of heat/time is 25 times higher than that observed in the air. Possibly this is the reason why, at the ambient temperature of 18ºC and water of 15ºC, the intervening time has been approximately of one hour and not more, experiencing the distress, observing color and temperature changes in acral parts.

Andy Goldsworthy in the documentary “Rivers and tides” evidences the difficulty of working in low temperatures and humidity with the possibility of producing vascular and muscular dysfunction (immobility) and even signs of freezing.

Pauses, an adequate intake and hydration, avoiding alcoholic beverages, avoiding tobacco and a theft of protection can help prevent injuries due to this risk factor.

The object of the intervention, has been to integrate elements of the country into its environment. The Rolling stones have been organized on the river floor in a space reminiscent of a pool of reduced dimensions.

This is a human intervention in nature as many others that are not always in favor.  Pretends to show difficulty to follow a healthy nature course, the freedom of the flow and the print of society load.

Repetitive movements. Pencil portraits.

Have you ever wondered how many similar movements need to be made to represent a portrait in a drawing? How many times do you need to slide the pencil in the same position and for how long? It is a task that involves repeated movements, the ergonomic risk for Repetitive Movements.

Pencil drawing. 2017.

These are those in which the same sequence of repeated movements takes place in more than 50% of the cycle or task that is carried out repeatedly. The number of actions carried out in each minute (speed), duration of the task, posture, intensity of force to be performed, the existence of pauses or recovery time and other additional factors such as the cold, the vibrations, the adequacy of Personal Protective Equipment to the dimensions of the individual, slip of what is held.

Perhaps it is easy to observe it in a repeated sequence of three movements, as it would be the three steps shown in the following drawing:

“One, two, three”. Ink drawing. May 2020.

Or trying to make an artwork with mud with no other tool but hands

Mud fingers towers

The drawing was carried out at ground level, with a spatula, given the need to adopt a forced dorsiflexion of the wrist, repeating the same sequence of movements and without rest intervals.

The movements that make up the cycles were performed quickly at a rate of 6 movements every 2 seconds.

The paper is wet, but following the same movements, to avoid monotony in the result of the work. Beyond a work where only lines in the same direction are visualized, it is necessary to value those others where the repetitiveness of movements is not intuited but are there, reason why recovery pauses and exercises as stretching ones, are necessary.

Pencil drawing. 2017.


Psychosocial risk is an ergonomic aggravator for the skeletal muscle system. The work shows how stress and exhaustion influence the outcome of a work. The week of March 9-15, 2020 was especially intense for me. The outbreak of cases of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus or COVID-19) meant that during the 12th and 13th of March could not stop work activity, having started early morning with telephone calls, visits and managements until past the afternoon and beyond. Since then, the work has been intense until mid-May, affecting this situation on a psychological level.Stress has a physical effect on the tension in the muscles of the face, neck and back as a preparation for reacting to a stimulus that is dangerous and relaxes once it has passed. In the case of chronic muscles, it is constantly tense, which causes a decrease in blood flow to the muscles, thus reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients, generating a greater accumulation of toxic waste and lactic acid. which entails a limitation of movement. Stress is involved in coordinating muscle groups while maintaining posture and balance during movement. This process involves headaches, chronic pain, contractures … so manual dexterity is also affected.

COVID-19. March 2020. Mixed media on paper.

Wild flowers

An unfavorable ergonomically element is the use of inappropriate elements; such as personal protective equipment that does not fit the body dimensions in precision tasks. My size is small, I usually use S or XS sizes. In this work I used some XXL size gardening gloves to draw. Using them requires greater muscle tension to maintain control of stroke or movement, which decreases comfort and increases muscle exhaustion, forcing recovery breaks.

“Wild Flowers”. Ink drawing made with XXL size gardener gloves. 65×50 cm.

Home: Heaven or Hell?

A person is social being. Thus, the interpersonal relationships that people establish in the different environments in which they operate (family, work …) are configured into important elements insofar as they fulfill a series of functions that, ultimately, will determine the existence of problems or, on the contrary, satisfaction. Social support buffers stress and improves overall health.

This work invites reflection on how we have perceived our home throughout confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath caused by it. Of how we have been able to reflect on what we have and have lost. Suffering for some, opportunities for others.

Isolation, search for communication through social networks and new technologies.

Home: Heaven or Hell?

Home: Heaven or Hell? 
Ink drawing collage on paper. 50 x 65 cm

Home: Heaven or Hell?
Ink drawing collage on paper. 50 x 65 cm

After SARS-CoV-2 confinement, after dreaming of fields, feel Home as Heaven or Hell?

Ergonomics and Art. Introduction

The aim of this project is the integration of Health in the artistic field in the framework of healthy promotion and aging. Musculoskeletal disorders are the biggest work-related health problem in Europe and are largely caused by unfavorable habits and ignorance. The main body segments affected are upper extremity (elbow, shoulder, hand and wrist) and back (cervical, dorsal and lumbar areas). The problems are due to bad habits learned in childhood and difficult to rectify in adulthood, once integrated. For this reason, in 2009 I wrote an educational story in ergonomics that was published by the INSHT (Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene del Trabajo).

Ergonomics is the science that studies and promotes the adaptation of the environment to the individual. This is the project essence, interpreting in a plastic and visual way how unfavorable situations for the human body influence artistic practice.

Artistic expressions have been performed in situations of handling loads, repetitive movements, forced postures and even in unfavorable psychosocial situations and moments of urinary retention.

The subject is mostly abstract and mixed media has been used, with ink predominating on paper, …. The main references have been abstract plastic artists such as Antoni Tàpies and Kitty Sabatier, with their free and expressive strokes in drawing, but also the abstract textures and embossed works of Miquel Barceló. Mostly of this works are abstract but seek a compositional balance.

Ergonomics for children. Ergonomía para niños: “El hechizo de la plastilina”

(Only available in Spanish)

Hace ya tiempo, impartiendo formación en ergonomía, numerosos asistentes solicitaban información sobre esta temática para mitigar dolencias de la espalda de sus hijos. Es por ello, que empecé a escribir un breve relato para que los más pequeños, entendieran el porqué sobre la importancia de hábitos posturales y algunas recomendaciones al respecto.

¡Os invito a leer el cuento! Lo podéis encontrar en el siguiente enlace: El hechizo de la plastilina


First aid child manual. Manual infantil de primeros auxilios: “El hechizo de la mala suerte”

(Only available in Spanish)

“The spell of bad luck” is a first aid manual as an interactive story. It contains recommendations for the main situations that require supportive action, and other educational material related to how the human body works. At the moment, it is only available for Apple devices, in iBook format.

You can find a sample and download it from the iBooks Store. To do this, you have to access into iBooks application, go to the iBooks Store, and search for it by author, title or first aid.

This book has been endorsed by the Catalan Council for Ressuscitation (CCR), a multidisciplinary scientific entity, linked to the European Ressuscitation Council.