"Rivers and Tides" is subtle and meditative almost to a fault. The calming images of rivers, streams, forests and farmlands are so relaxing that you may have to fight the temptation to doze off.

So it's fortunate that the film is relatively short (just over 90 minutes) and that its subject — Andy Goldsworthy, a Scottish sculptor known for working with nature — is so fascinating.

Still, you will keep your eyes open to see what he's going to create next.

This 2001 documentary finds Goldsworthy in Nova Scotia, where he's been commissioned to create a few original pieces along the coastline, working with ice and rock, and using his bare hands, no less.

From there, he moves on to New York's Storm King Sculpture Park, where he designs a huge stone wall weaving its way through trees, pathways and even a nearby road. Then he's off to Digne, France, where he creates a patterned clay wall. In between, we see Goldsworthy relaxing by "practicing" at home, creating similarly dazzling pieces made of wood and other natural materials.

Admittedly, to the untrained eye, some of these works of art may look like little more than colorful squiggles. Which is why the scenes of art creation are so crucial. It's even more fascinating when you realize that many of Goldsworthy's works are not permanent. For example, a rock-and-

icicle piece lasts precious few hours in the sun, while a man-sized sphere constructed of found wood is last seen drifting downstream as it comes apart.

And aside from appealing odd-duck Goldsworthy and his art, the real star here is the cinematography (done by Thomas Reidelsheimer, who also directed); some of the scenes of nature are equally artistic.

"Rivers and Tides" is not rated but would probably receive a PG for use of one profanity and a scene of animal birthing. Running time: 94 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com