I’ve been a little lax on keeping this blog up to date but I am tuning in now…
Here’s a group of images that i was collecting and drawing at the beginning of this semester which were the first steps in the direction I am now taking.
Its a bit of an image dump, but some of the pictures show works by Hieronymous Bosch, Tal R, other medieval works that depict scene of heaven and hell, and then other images which i have screenshotted on the internet and images I have taken myself, many of which are from my time in LA as part of my year abroad.
Here are some photos taken on Granton. I was searching for sea bricks (of which there were many…) but also came across some interesting pieces that had fragments of past buildings being reused or repurposed in the mortar. I also came across several pieces of dry dash wall that also interested me.
Below are some pictures of some experimentation with some of the found materials.
Assemblage experiments with found materials:
(Failed!) Casting attempts
I tried to cast the impressions of some of the found materials in sand by pressing the objects into the sand and then pouring plaster inside the “footprint” left behind. this failed to work as the sand was not fine enough and so i tried casting the objects themselves but this did not come out as i intended it to, with the objects sticking to the plaster, unable to be freed.
I saw some sea bricks near Dover this past summer and they have re-enterted my thoughts now with the potential to build a stone wall out of them.
I have bought a miniature brick and mortar set which I am going to use by building brick structures, sanding them down into more organic shapes, as if shaped by the seas erosion, and then use them to build a section of a stone dyke.
Over the course of the last 4 years, I have worked stints on the island of Tanera Mòr in the Summer Isles of Scotland, most recently this past August. While working here I have tried my hand at the traditional craft of drystone dyking and to a lesser standard, thatching heather. I have been particularly fascinated by drystone dyks since spending some time learning and building some for myself with extremely skilled drystone dykers.
I have gathered here some of the research that I have done into drystone dykes and below written down some general thoughts, questions and ideas that I have had off the back of my primary (learning and partaking in the process itself) and secondary (online and in books) research.
This year I intend to use my experiences of the process as the catalyst for my work.
Stone walls found estimated to be from as early as 3500 BC.
Cornish hedges (earth not stone) believed to date from 5000 BC (Guild of Cornish Hedges.)
Global occurrence (Europe, North America, South America).
Style is dependent on the available and naturally occurring stone.
Older walls often constructed from stones and boulders cleared from fields in preparation for agriculture.
“Double” wall – This is the technique that I have begun learning.
Placing two rows of stones along boundary to be walled.
Flattish stones, diminishing in size as wall rises.
Smaller stones used as “chocks” for where the stones are more rounded, filling in the spaces.
At intervals, “through stones” thread the back and front wall.
Large and flat “cap stones” or “copes” are placed on top to further bond the wall.
Holes in the wall – smaller are called “Bolt Holes” (no bigger than 8”) – larger are called “Cripple Hole” (between 8” and 24”) – “Sheep Creep”
Galloway Dykes – No experience of building a wall like this.
Double wall of larger boulders with single-wall on top
Rickety appearance which deters livestock and people from climbing – a wall as a barrier as well as a repellent. Offensiveness of a wall, almost psychological.
Holes (from ricketiness) allow for wind to pass through
Minor variations can identify an area
Technique can be used for buildings, fortifications, bridges
Hanging Trees project
Tension between a forested landscape and one which is farmed. ‘A field, cleared of trees, is the site of a battlefield that has occurred between a farmer and the land.’
Storm King Wall
DSW snaking through woods continues into a nearby pond and emerges the other side
General thoughts, questions and ideas:
Locate (varying styles in different areas)
Marking (a cairn at the top of the mountain)
Advent of wire fences means it is a dying craft – wire allows for far larger areas to be cordoned far quicker and far cheaper – what does this mean in the context of modern agriculture and thus on the impact of the environment? Stone walls last much longer
The contrasts between traditional building techniques and contemporary ones in terms of the number of materials and processes required.
The idea of a dyke being almost a universal harbinger of pastoral life and also of our collective human history.
A timelessness, almost “cosy” feeling to the aesthetic of the walls.
An evaluation of what the dykes are indicative of – as mentioned, a pastoral and historical connotation. They are also intensely political, perhaps more so now than ever – these types of walls would have been the early praxis for dividing up and distributing land hundreds if not thousands of years ago and these decisions, codified by the construction of barriers/borders such as drystone dykes still have huge impacts and relevance to the ways in which we live today.