Every now and then, inspiration, talent, stone, and stars align in such a way that something magnificent happens. In the primal world of stone walling, where no mortar or glue or any kind of industrial advantage is tolerated, even the most well built structures rarely climb out of the category of traditional craft to become (dare I say?) works of art.
If fitted skillfully, stones can be pretty much be relied upon to support and create an impressively solid and long lasting form, but rarely do they get the opportunity to perform as they do in Eric Landman's 'Tree Installation'. Dedicated to his wife Kerry and built primarily by Eric and their son Jordon Mason the wall speaks to the heart on many levels.
Since its completion in March of 2012, one or two images of the work have exploded across the digital universe. I suspect by now millions of people have gazed at it recognizing it to be something of a masterpiece, and yet like all masterpieces, it really needs to be seen in person to take in the full meaning and appreciate its materiality.
Standing there in the snow I see cold solid everyday stones transformed into a living mosaic. They combine to create an impressionistic sculpture, a natural synthesis of uplifting beauty. The image of the tree bursts through the inanimate restrictions of mass, gravity and geology.
The piece is bedded in the landscape. Placed in a gallery of nature, and carefully lit by beams of golden sunlight cascading through the dappled forest backdrop, this tree appears to be growing. Indeed the piece grew out of love and suitably 'from the ground up' during the cold winter after Kerry's death.
Unlike a painting or a mosaic, where any part of the whole image can be worked on at the same time, the outline of the tree could only be 'grown' upwards, stone upon stone. Care had to be taken to ensure that some of the stone foliage was built into the wall in places below where it had not yet appeared to be connected to the whole. This is the fun and the challenge of creating credible representations within the dry stone medium.
And credible as the tree is, the over all effect is overwhelming and as a free-standing stone feature quite an incredible accomplishment. As a totally self-supporting structure (having nearly 5 foot of depth at the base, and over 12 feet high) the viewer is allowed to not just admire the surface tree image, but reflect on the interconnectedness within - the inner beauty and depth of emotion that went into creating this enduring piece.