We all have memories of special places from our youth: beaches, fishing holes, horse ranches, libraries and many more old haunts as numerous as the people who carry those memories. For me, places with stone features are what resonate. There was the granite wall where all the kids sat waiting for the bus, the stone fort which was a remnant from the King Phillip’s War, and the 180′ long segmented breakwater, (where a brother fell into some scary white capped water). However diverse and distant our memories of all these places may seem, they all have some things in common. Each place was a destination and the journey to visit was filled with anticipation. When we were in these places, the universe seemed all right. All these places seemed permanent. We could imagine they had always existed and would long remain.
What makes stone spaces special to me is how powerfully they evoke age. Stone by virtue of being stone suggests that it will last forever. Manmade stone structures are our attempt to domesticate a material both unyielding and often grotesque, into something beautiful and permanent. Stone structures evoke my European roots. I imagine ancient churches, stone shelters, arched bridges and the many ruins and think, History happened here.
As our land use changes and our architectural styles evolve, many of our old farm walls will disappear. In my exploration for more adaptive dry stone craft styles, I have been examining new building processes and the resulting forms. One of my favorite new styles finds its form as a tall mass of counter intuitive stone placements, with high contrast between stone sizes and orientation of courses. The resulting form, though newly minted, is one imbued with age: part ruin, part wall, domestic yet primitive. Pictured here is one such sculptural wall I recently installed here at the entrance to Avant Gardens. Notice the shelving, both recessed and extant: not just a playful gesture, but a suggestion that this wall may once have been part of an interior space.
One stone to another