Dry Stone Walls.
Curious Wall notes, June 2012.
One of my interest during the residency with VARC (2011-2012) was to develop an approach to working with the landscape connected to that place, in this instance Tarset in Northumberland, and also my practice generally, relating to concerns within contemporary art, environmental and land art, and public sculpture.
I was also interested to bring to Tarset something of my experience of living between London and Berlin, creating a connection between the rural and the urban, an approach relevant to both.
I had an idea to work with the existing dry stone walls - many of which are collapsed and now redundant - finding ways to combine text and designs into these. Graffiti offered both an approach and a link to the urban.
I always aim to respond to and bring together the ideas, situations, environments I,m working with, in what I feel to be the most relevant and direct way possible. And also where possible to have control over the means of production, so in this situation it was necessary to get to grips with the making, the construction process. This enables both an understanding of the process and creates a connection to others doing this work - an understanding of the demands of the work, the environment in which it is undertaken and the history - history of the work itself, and also the land and the stone.
The curious wall was suggested through a speech made by Stephen Hawking to mark his 70th birthday. This was reported in the Guardian in January 2012, with a heading of -Hawking encourages people to be curious. At the time I read this I was about to launch myself into building the first wall, it appeared at an opportune moment - I had spent time considering potential sites, talking to local farmers, spending a couple of mornings with the McPherson Brothers, local Northumberland dry stone wallers, who’d given me a quick introduction into the craft, and also having built three models, which was also extremely useful as a training exercise - I was ready to start. The positive statement made by Hawking seemed to lend itself to a piece of graffiti, particularly in the very remote spot I,d located as a good site to work at – both because of the material available and its isolation.
THC over a stream, 2012.
THC as symbol was one of the first ideas to incorporate into a dry stone wall because of its Berlin and central European over-use as graffiti, creating the extreme urban connection I wanted to explore.