The Sheep Shed

Over time, I’ve expanded the walling work that’s been the backbone on my career to include dry stone sculpture and environmental art. The designs typically take dry stone techniques and traditions into new territory. A concept will be explored through the lens of what’s known to have worked in the past. The core of a design is always some borrowed understanding. It might be my own knowledge gained from a previous project, or, it may be the experience of others made intelligible through observation and study. Design is applied comprehension. The creation of an art piece begins with fabrication and ends with installation. One question remains. Will it last?

Because landscape artworks are one-of-a-kind, site specific, custom built objects, each one is unprecedented. There’s nothing exactly like them to compare them to. Their lifespan can be guessed at, but not known in advance. The craftsman in the builder strives for strength and durability through exacting skill. The artist in the builder seeks surprises in the process that will lead to breakthroughs in shape and form. Making something new is why I do what I do. But everything new eventually becomes something old. Watching how is gets there is both fascinating and frightening. I had some trepidation returning to the “Sheep Shed” eight years after construction. The techniques I employed in the roof structure of the functional art piece were time-tested by other craftsmen, in other lands. Observing old buildings in the Swiss Alps gave me faith that a dry stone roof system was doable. I just didn’t know if I could do one. Looking up at the spruce timbers and undersides of the roof stones, I breathed a sigh of relief. The Sheep Shed was standing proud, and except for the patina of age that had begun to cover the wood and stone surfaces, it looked like new.

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