The World of Made Things

The subject of my talk at the National Green Centre on Sunday will be “Landscaping and Art Making: Two sides of the same coin”. The coin, itself, is the value we place on our surroundings. While the natural environment is unquestionably the soul of our surroundings, I will focus my talk on the world of made things.

In his latest novel, Vermont writer Jay Parini includes a letter Nathanial Hawthorn wrote to Herman Melville after reading Melville’s new novel, “Moby Dick.” Hawthorn praises the book with these words: “It is an admirable if strange thing to add to this world of made things. Like every great and noble work of the imagination, it changes how we think, act, dream.”

Landscaping is an admirable occupation when it honors nature by emulating its beauty and respecting its tenants. Art making in the out of doors must also respect the laws of nature if such efforts are to be admired. The difference between the two might best be measured by degrees of strangeness. How much, as made things, do they make us think, act, dream?

To help examine the value we place on our surroundings I will drop five coins on the table in front of the audience at the National Green Centre. Each coin represents an approach to design. Each approach explores a range of landscaping and art making possibilities.

1. Local Precedent to Exotic Import
2. Serviceable Pragmatism to Soulful Expressionism
3. Cerebral Exercise to Hard Labor
4. Skill Craft to  Eye Candy
5. Opportune Happenstance to Willful Intention

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4 Responses to The World of Made Things

  1. In the Company of Stone January 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Hi Lucie,
    So nice to hear from you. I’ve been wondering how the workshop walls, you and all the rest constructed at Hope Builders Group, ended up. Any recent pictures to share?

    Unfortunately, the presentation at the National Green Centre was not recorded. There were about fifty landscape professionals in the audience. They had a genuine interest in the subject of stone art,asking lots of good questions.
    Thanks for the invite back to your lovely home. Elin and I hope to see more of Indiana, someday.

  2. Lucie January 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Hi Dan,
    I wish I could have heard this talk. Was it recorded? I am intrigued with your 5 coin concepts. A question I have as a designer is how to “speed up” placemaking–a craft that is best practiced over a time.

    I am also enjoying your series of essays on Rice Mountain and the idea of lithoculture.

    Greetings to Ellen, too. We have replaced the futon with a respectable mattress and so our door is open if you are passing through.


  3. In the Company of Stone January 13, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    Hi Ward,
    I enjoyed meeting and chatting with you after the presentation. Thanks for the feedback,it helps to have your impression of the talk.

  4. Ward Wester January 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm #


    Enjoyed your talk very much. Thanks so much for coming and sharing your artistic approach to not simply altering the landscape, but enhancing it.

    I look forward to reading your books.


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