Monday, March 2, 2015

Abridgement



Perhaps those of us who love dry-laid stonework and/or build with stone, using only stone (no mortar) can better understand what it is about a dry stone bridge that makes it so profoundly attractive  - and so 'right'. 
Many of us can certainly appreciate the rewarding sense of accomplishment Anne Halliday must feel having recently completed her first bridge at the Westwood Hotel Golf and Country club near Glasgow Scotland.


Unlike thousand of others made with steel, wood or concrete, a properly built dry stone structure like this beautiful arched bridge that Anne built, is not just a thing of beauty, it is also a delightful demonstration and resonating expression of what it is we associate the word 'bridge' to mean.

It is this expressive manifestation of the 'dry stone bridge' alone that so mysterious spans the gap of our own imagination of what 'bridging' is. 
We begin to understand not only why and how it 'stands', but even what it is a 'bridge' stands for.

While some of us will never get over the charm of a dry stone bridge (when we do indeed have the pleasure coming across one) we recognize that it intrinsically capsulizes, in its unique structural design, all that is involved in the concept  of  'comprehending' , literally 'trying to get over' something.  

The stones are all joined together in a magical pattern to actually reach across the opening, which is less like an 'understandable opening' and more like a challenging expanse of nothingness presenting a kind of invisible barrier. 

A bridge of this type that is uniquely constructed of skillfully fitted stones in an arch is in itself the 'abridgement' of the concept of dry stone walling. It epitomizes the artistry and craftsmanship involved. 

Such a bridge will always represent more than the sum of its parts (the stones) 

Sadly there are relatively few dry stone bridges here in Canada that are built of dry laid stone. Not many can be found even back in Britain or Ireland or the rest of Europe either. And while there there are still very few being built Anne's project does represent a growing movement, a new resurgence in the interest in building permanently with stone, and without mortar. 

It mostly involves using common sense (and physics) to fit the stones together. Skilled artisans like Anne are helping demystify the concept of working with this plentifully available and naturally structural material.  All that is required is a dedication to building properly with stone the way people simply used to in the past, with an understanding that bridges needed to be built way before manufactured products and speciallized technology came along. 

The stones in Anne's bridge rely solely on their own friction and weight to keep the whole arch suspended in air.
They join together in a continuous bond facilitating not just our 'getting across' the real bridge (and also the concept), but they also help us to make that intuitive connection between form and function.

Click here to see more photos and read what Anne Halliday has to say about building her bridge

To see the a previous Thinking With My Hands post I wrote about Anne and her bridge visit Anne Halliday and her Bridge

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