award-winning outdoor art-maker using dry stone construction to devise site-specific works of environmental art, and author of three books about the art and craft of working with dry stone in the landscape; his creative process is the subject of the documentary film, Stone Rising; lecturer and workshop leader; his forty year career has taken him across the USA, Canada, the UK, and Scandanavia
The voice of stone is an echo from the depths of time. The language is lost to our ears but something of its essence can be translated through touch. Stone speaks through the hands when a dry stone construction is created, because touch, being the oldest of our senses, is most sensitive to its language. Seeing is really just a way to touch beyond our arm’s reach. Having an eye for stone, as it’s said dry stone wallers do, is to have sight that has been schooled by the fingertips. With every stone lifted from the ground you will hear the stone calling.
A dry stone wall’s source of life is found in the spaces between the stones. The time between placing one stone and the next on a wall is the space in which a wall is conceived. To be efficient in the task of walling, each stone is handled as briefly as possible. But that’s not to say those moments are insignificant. The thinking that goes along with the placement of each stone incrementally adds to what is, ultimately, the wall conceptualized. The stones provoke the thoughts and the thoughts give birth to the form. A finished construction is a thought process petrified. Within a wall are all the moments that created it. They remain there like hidden messages slipped between the stones as they were placed. The finished wall’s character is defined by the spaces between the stones as much as it is by the stones themselves.
from Listening to Stone by Dan Stone © 2008 by Dan Snow, photographs © 2008 by Peter Mauss (Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing, Inc.)