Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dry Stone Public Art

One of the topics of conversation David Wilson and I kept coming back to when he and his wife were visiting us was the concept of 'public space' and the importance of having practises and initiatives set in place within communities that recognize the huge humanizing value of stone. Unfortunately the funding set aside for projects designed to humanize an urban space don't always meet human requirements, materially.  The simple fact is, stone needs to be provided for if people are to be provided for.

There's no getting around it, concrete and steel and glass are less human and while already dominating municipal commercial and industrial space, should not be allowed to seep into public space as well, where 'the public' could benefit far more by getting back in touch with a far less artificial material.

Stone has always been and will continue to be more 'human' and more publicly appealing than manufactured material. It has a revitalizing quality that humans can not resist.

Artistic stone installations such as the ones David has been commissioned to build in Scotland have an accessibility about them which softens and 'humanizes' the urban landscape, because it has grown into it.  Pieces that are built of dry stone, by necessity are constructed gradually on sight over time, and the community is 'introduced' to it in a way that often involves the artist(s) getting to know the public they are making public art for, and the people get to learn about, and have a relationship with, the 'art' that is starting to emerge on their tiny patch of the urban landscape

Pre-built constructs of metal or indestructible materials other than stone are usually just plopped in place with no integrated connection to the people living there. 

I am happy to see that the dry stone boat that the wallers came together to build here in Port Hope last year has been assimilated into the 'heart' of our community. The banner in the photo above attests to the fact that our public art installation, (our gift of stone) has become something the town recognizes as worthwhile.

During the time it was being built, people not only got to see it gradually take on shape, but also got to talk to us and get a feel for what we were building (and in some cases even got to handle the stones)... and yes, have their hearts touched by stone.