Building dry stone art is often a solitary pursuit. Accomplishments take place in the long stretches between contact with others. As my projects expand into the public realm the way forward is peppered with people. For someone whose focus has been on engagement with inert matter, to be devoting attention to a multiplicity of human interactions is a switch in gears. The variables grow exponentially. The ground underfoot is less sure. Choices and decisions are made in a more fluid fashion. A need develops for trust in a group momentum. Everyone agrees to volunteer a small portion of their lives over an extended period in the belief that a satisfactory conclusion to a common goal will someday make its appearance out of the mist ahead.
Unlike with singular endeavors, condensed efforts are rare in the evolution of a public art project. This is new territory for me as an art maker. I’m used to bringing things to a steady speed and keeping them rolling to the end of the track. But always included in that methodology is an acceptance of field conditions as they’re encountered. It’s no help denying what is. The trick is to turn what’s currently at hand to advantage. I’m learning that this is true whether those assets and encumbrances along the way are geological or physiological in nature.
After decades of assessing the attributes of inanimate objects in a direct and uncompromising way, I find myself in terrain where taking that path of least resistance only leads down a slippery slope to nowhere special. From a distance, the long way around appears to be inefficient and wasteful, but once the trip begins, the side tracks and stops along the way become the definition of the journey. The people met, the conversations had, the agreements made, are memorialized in the installation that’s left behind. They become the substance, if not the point, of the project. The public work now belongs to those who meander by, and will, I hope, become their memory touchstone.
From picking up the phone, at home, to field a call from Scotland in April 2014, to picking up my tools from a field in Scotland and returning home in July 2015, “Rock Springs” was an experience in long-distance cooperation. I’d like to pay thanks to all those who made it possible. Please forgive any unintended omissions. From Glenmorangie Distillery (Edinburgh and Tain), Dr. Bill, David W, Ellie, Mike, Anne, Kate, Louise, Davina, Dani, Derek, Arnaud, Sarah, Olivia, Annette, Andy, Hamish, Craig M, Lis, Alice, Sandy and Ian. From BSUR (Amsterdam), Joost, Niels, Shandor, Fiona and Martha. From LVMH (France) Marc, Francois, Antonio and Hugues. From Schmick Film and Photography (London) Christian, Marcus, Tracy, Joel, Henry, Matt and Becky. From neighbors (Tarbat Peninsula), Dave M, George, Kenny, Robert, William, Morris, John, Tim, Emma and Rod. A special thanks for the hospitality and friendship extended by the team at Glenmorangie House (Cadboll at Hilton), David G, Chef Davey, John, Peter, Ronny, Amy, Maggie, Billy, Janet, Aly, Craig, Michelle, Claire and Evelyn. From friends (Highlands) Dave, Mary and Nick. From home, Jared. And first and foremost, from DSSW, Elin.
Click on the Glenmorangie Unseen November Issue link (a birthdate required for entry to spirits website) for the articles and video commissioned by Glenmorangie for the Rock Springs project. Glenmorangie Unseen, Issue No. 4, November 2015.