Newfoundland’s well deserved nickname is “The Rock.” You can’t go anywhere on the island without running into some new geologic wonder to explore. An ample supply of loose building stone is what first drew me to Canada’s easternmost province but in the five, annual pilgrimages I’ve made to Newfoundland since 2010 I’ve discovered that there’s much more going on there.Read More
Last evening the atmosphere softened to dusty rose across the far horizon. An osprey wheeled its way around the shoreline heading across Green Bay toward an incandescent object rising from the shimmering surface of the sea. Two hours earlier, I was at Ken Tuach’s stone yard wrapping up a day of DSWA examination. E and I then made a mad dash from western Newfoundland to the Baie Verte Peninsula just in time to glimpse the majestic iceberg across the water before the darkness descended.Read More
The creation of a low, curving wall that leads the way up a hill to the newly restored St. Patrick’s church will be the goal of a dry stone walling workshop, July 19-20, in Woody Point, Newfoundland. Ken Tuach, a Level 3 DSWA craftsman, has asked me to join him in presenting the workshop to area stone enthusiasts. This two-day workshop will offer a challenge to beginners and improvers, alike. Workshop participants will be building a short retaining wall on a gentle slope. With a low student-teacher ratio, participants will learn the best practices and techniques for dry stone walling.Read More
The purpose of the workshop is to discover terrestrial habitats, artifacts, microcosms and vistas that excite curiosity and wonder about a place, identify existing order and disorder for the purpose of exploring ways art can be an evolutionary partner with the environment, and to seek out conditions conducive to the development of creative interrelationships with the natural world. The workshop will take a hands-on approach to making art that springs from, and is absorbed by, its surroundings.
DATE: Sunday July 27 - Thursday July 31, 2014. Participants interested in a 2-day workshop, are welcome to join in on the Wednesday/Thursday of the 5-day workshop.
LOCATION: English Harbour Arts Centre, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.
A distant foghorn, waves lapping against the harbor shore and the “blow” from a humpback whale surfacing in the bay; these are the sounds that often greet visitors coming to English Harbour, Newfoundland. This summer’s workshop goal will be to create a companion piece to the “Mock Maze” that was built in 2012. Participants will collaborate on creating a design, and then construct it on the grounds of the art center.Read More
Past workshops have sketched a wave on the footprint of a derelict old field wall by establishing a guide frame with rope and artist easels, and bringing stones to points just under the line. Another group hiked to a remote beach and made a circle of stones on the crest of the high-water mark. It was only a visible as a piece of environmental art from the air. The English Harbour village and coastal cliffs along the famous Skerwink Trail were also viewable from Dave Paddon’s float plane.Read More
Each morning a pair of loons fly from the high forest pond behind the house to the wide ocean bay at the bottom of the road. In the evening they make a return flight. They punctuate their daily routines with an intermittent call and response, stuttering laughs that draws me out onto the deck to watch them wing past. This is high entertainment in the TV and internet-free environment I’ve been living in the past two weeks. The radio here is powered by a hand crank. After five minutes of broadcast the signal cuts out and I have to decide if the listening is worth the effort to recharge the battery.Read More
A collaborative design process culminating in the hands-on creation of a dry stone structure. Instruction in design will include site assessment, 3-D modeling and guide frame set up. Instruction in building with loose stone will include identifying each stone’s best use, applying the four basic principles for strong construction, and practicing safe methods for shifting and lifting stone. One day of the workshop will be devoted to working in nature to create a temporary environmental art piece.Read More
My thanks go out to all those who made the stone workshops a success. Community members collected stone by the snowmobile trailer load, or by filling up the back of their Subaru. Members of the Centre’s board of directors promoted the workshop, participated in it and brought baked goods and coffee to fuel progress. For those who dug sod, barrowed stone, nailed together guide frames and crafted the works I’m forever grateful for your toil and alacrity.Read More
The dry stone workshops at English Harbour have been treated to buffeting winds, lightning storms, muffling fog and dazzling sunshine over these past two weeks. Participants have gone from working in tee shirts to suiting up in insulated rain-gear. Whatever the weather conditions of the day (or hour) it’s been exhilarating working on the Newfoundland coast. The wide vistas of boreal forestland and ever-changing seascape have made a dramatic backdrop to our dry stone activities.Read More
Last night the sky over the harbor was totally star-twinkled. From the bay, which was uncharacteristically placid, came the "whooshing" sound of whales' breaths. The huge animals rhythmically rose to the water's surface in the darkness, exhaling plumes of sea mist. They were invisible to the eye but must have been very close to shore. The 'squeaks' and 'squawks' of their aquatic songs reverberated around the bay. The sonic echoes were hauntingly beautiful but their meaning lost on my land-locked ears.Read More
While other parts of Canada are experiencing record high temperatures, here on the east coast of Newfoundland we go about in wool sweaters and windbreakers. Lightning storms have made quick visits overhead in the nighttime. Strong winds blow intermittently through the day. But always, in the past week, there has been fog. Time stands still when the quality of light remains the same from dawn to dusk. It’s the color of pewter tinged with green from the landscape of meadow grass and spruce forest. And always the mournful moan of the foghorn in the background calling out from the coastal headlands; a sound I don’t so much hear, as feel in my body like the rise and fall of a breath.Read More
Since my arrival in English Harbour under clear blue skies three days ago, the fog has crept in and kept our dry stone walling workshop blanketed in degrees of gray. However, the enthusiasm of all six participants has been nothing less than rainbow bright. They started out on Monday brainstorming their way to a design and plan of attack to begin building the first of four corner features for a new fence around the arts centre. On Tuesday they completed a six-sided base for a stone lantern and a short length of retaining wall. Today we’ll keep a watch out for whales. Maybe the three humpbacks that were feeding on capelin in the harbor on Monday will be back.Read More
The road to a project’s completion is often a long and winding one. That’s why it’s worth taking time along the way to enjoy the view. The installation I’ll be doing at TICKON in Denmark later this summer began last year with an invitation from the art park to submit a proposal. Over the months, conversations and emails have taken the proposal through a series of development where I now feel that all the parts are in place to begin the work.Read More
Cultivated land is a handmade environment. In centuries past, the face of Newfoundland was shaped by domestic agricultural activity. While many of the stone walls built during those times have lost their stature as fences, their presence remains a defining characteristic of the land. The close attention that farmers paid to their surroundings is comparable to the awareness artists bring to their work. Dry stone construction is a logical medium of expression for an artist working in the landscape.Read More
A video of the 2009 English Harbour Arts Centre stone building workshop in Newfoundland, Canada.Read More