English Harbour Arts Centre Dry Stone Walling Workshops

Reflecting on the recently completed 2-day workshop at English Harbour Art Centre, I begin to see that perhaps the most useful function I perform as a walling instructor is offering permission to those in attendance to try something new. For a participant, the workshop setting is a green light at an intersection that otherwise would be blinking red. Because the building site has been prepared with footings dug, guidelines strung and stones laid out on the ground, around, the usual impediments to getting started building a wall have been removed. A participant feels free to act and is encouraged to begin.

Initial instruction stresses placing stones with their lengths into the wall; perpendicular to the wall face. With this simple and singular thought in mind, participants have a clear goal to accomplish with each stone they choose. If the “end in-end out” method is employed faithfully its benefit to the wall and the builder’s progress becomes more evident as subsequent courses of stone are applied to the wall. Each stone is understood to be functioning as a mechanical part in the workings of the wall.

While there may be some frustration voiced regarding the difficulty in finding the “right rock,” participants make steady progress with their construction and loudly celebrate their victory when that “just-right piece” finds its place on the wall.

My grateful appreciation goes out to all those who joined in for both the 5-day and 2-day workshops this summer in Newfoundland. Jim, Sue, Don, Laurelyn, Alan, Christopher, Spencer, Abraham, Neil, Beni and Marco, you are true adventurers, all. And to the board, volunteers, and staff of the Art Centre – Elin, Kim, Deb, Dave, Cathy, Luke, Winnie, Maggie and Peter, thanks for all the support and tasty refreshments.

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