Wednesday, March 27, 2024

We, the Hunter Gatherers

 Hunter Gatherer’s 🙌

The contours or these hands stencilled onto the rock by blowing pigment through hollow bones of animals they had hunted and eaten, is the art of conversation.

It is a conversation between positive and negative space.

They are conflicting entries written on stone

We are looking at a stencil pattern of ‘missing hands’.

We see contrasting colour and non-colour, defining shapes where those hands once have been.

The hands have long disappeared

And yet the missing hands are forever in conversation with the smooth rock .

And we ( by studying them ) join that conversation . 

We try to imagine what has been said and what we are to say back to hem now?

How do we ‘spray’ our response ? Where do we stencil in our spaces and non spaces . This is an archaic calendar, a primitive journal, of overlapping entries  

Perhaps when we perform our handiwork on the rocks, perhaps when we create art with them, we are leaving not just a mark, but a remark. 

We, the modern hunter gatherers, use that same material .  It’s ‘rock, all the time’ for us. 

Rock always was the canvas.

It’s where art is made. 

It's our canvas now .

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

We have a trade unlike any other

Imagine you had a job , let’s say you were a surgeon or a carpenter or a brick layer or a potter, and all to had to work with was irregular crap ?  Castoffs, from other jobs, inconsistent-sized, broken, disorganized piles of what have you ! 

The irregularity of the material wallers have to work with demonstrates how good a waller they really are. The best wallers can do great work with anything. 

If you spin gold from straw you are a professional in your trade . If you can make structural, well built , beautiful looking walls, with what you’ve been given , (or found in the fields around you ) without complaining , without relying on expensive pallets of ‘easier’ pre-squared, pre-dressed, creatively less-challenging material having to be delivered on site, then you earn the right to be proud and sit for a moment and contemplate how strange and wonderful our craft is .

Friday, March 15, 2024

What to do with the whites.

The dark gritty oatmeal textured fieldstone granite distributed across the rolling landscape here in Virginia is peppered with a beautiful salt-coloured quartzite material. In some places in Rappahannock County these stark white rocks make up about twenty percent of the usable material for building dry stone walls. The question presents itself : What do we do with it ? Does it look good randomly dotted in the walls. Sometimes not.  From a distance it can look like wet plastic shopping bags having blown across the fields, all got hung up on the walls. This is usually not a satisfying look.

If we are intent on using all the stones available, including the white quartzite, there are several imaginative solutions to the problem. One wall I’ve seen here incorporates the white rocks by creating random belts of coursed white rocks worked into the mix.


Another idea involves using the white material strictly for the tops of the walls.

One outbuilding I came across in my bike ride had dark stones making up the whole the west side and used all lighter coloured quartzite rocks for the east wall.

Whatever the case, the building material we wallers choose to use is not purchased at some big box building supply store. It’s not manufactured cookie-cutter, all one size, one colour stuff. No it is sourced locally by hunter gatherers like ourselves who are thankful for such abundance of diversified natural material however it comes. We appreciate, and take seriously the challenge of, being able to accommodate its diversity of colour and shape, and happy enough to put it all to good use. 

I think there is a parable here somewhere.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The time has come



The time has come 

The wallers said

To talk of different states,  

Of shale and schist, and surface cracks

And amethyst and slates

And why debris forms mountain scree

And why the earth has plates.

They spoke of sub-atomic mass

Of particles and strings,

Of quantum leaps and isotopes

And earth's magnetic rings.

And after that they took some stones 

And built some arty things .

Saturday, March 9, 2024

There is A story here

There is a story here. There are Many stories here. Some are made up . Some are partially true based on who’s telling the story. Some of the stories incorporate things imagined in our dreams.

We’ve been here before . We respond to the image and try to understand the story that is implied. The point is there are many stories here . There isn’t ‘THE Story‘. THE story is just A story. It could be a good one or a bad one, a clever one or a crazy one, a new one or an old one. It is just another story .

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Rocks of Ages

A rock, when it gets employed in a dry laid wall, becomes a 'stone'. It now has a  job. An employed stone can be any colour, shape, type of material or religious persuasion, and more importantly it can be any...any age.

The newer aged stones, ( usually taken from a freshly quarried source) we like to call toddlers.

Yes, it may seem wrong to put young toddler rocks to work, but then they really are already, millions of years old!  The geological material they have broken off from has had plenty of time to form . It's just that having been recently extracted from the bedrock, they've not had a lot of exposure to the elements yet, so their 'character' has not really had time to develop.

In a wall they may look too new, too uninteresting, or worse, too brash or too sure of themselves. Their sharp, freshly hewn faces don't possess that patient beauty and calm humility that only comes with time. 

After a while, at a certain age, newly quarried  material changes from young 'ado-lesstones' through puberty to full grown adults. They begin to have character. 

As they pass from the awkward ages, they maybe start to grow lichen or moss and develop interesting textures. In a wall they will all start to have what is called a 'patina'.

It will take time, but the pre'Patin-Agers' will eventually become as experienced, and look as aesthetically attractive as their wizened elders.