The next day, I began working. The collection of materials is part of the discovery process. What shows itself often helps dictate the design of the structure. Here the landscape is quite sparse right at the water level... mostly it is just stone and water. I felt that a structure that was basically simple, would enhance the beautiful sculptural shapes of the surrounding bedrock so I decided to make a simple stone tower.
I was recalling the stone structures in Scotland and remembering that up on the Isle of Skye, near a castle called Dunvegan, there was a place called the Fairy Bridge. For some reason, I felt inspired to try and bring some of the energy of that place to this sculpture. The landscape around Dunvegan is rather stark and forbidding... and even though this was on a much smaller scale, this had a similar feeling to me.
After spending many hours collecting stones for building, I noticed that there were a range of colours in the stones here. Some were almost black, some red, some tan and most were a light grey. I decided to try and use the colours as a way of expressing the sense of movement coming up out of the living stone bedrock, upwards into the tower. So I began the very first layers with stones that most closely matched the base rock of the pothole, the dark black stone. This was also a good choice from a structural point because this stone was very hard, had sharp edges and was able to fit INTO the holes that were already present on the base rock... there was an interlocking feeling to how the work began. This helped me have confidence that things might go well. There is always the tension of possible collapse when you work with stone.
After the first layers of the darkest stones were in place, (you can see that best on the first photo) I moved next to the reddish stones. There were very few red stones, but they made a lovely transition between the dark base layer and the tan ones which would come next. These images show the work having progressed as far as the tan layer. Since it is hard to tell the size of this structure in these photos, let me just say at this point it is about 24 inches in diameter and about 18-20 inches high, on average, taller on the back side.
It takes a lot of stone to build. Most of it is in the center where it is never seen, but it all has to be solid and stable as you go up. I have not apprenticed to a stone mason, I probably should some day... I'm sure I'd learn a lot. But here I try to follow just a very simple principal: one stone goes over two or three, or, two stones go over one. That way each layer is "locked" somewhat to the one below. It is very hard to keep the whole thing going up in a straight line... you have to constantly be checking it from every angle and this requires a lot of moving closer and farther away. At the end of each day my legs were really tired even though I hardly went more than 60 ft away from this one spot (except for more gathering excursions). It took me two days to build this much, but I was having such fun! The piece was startting to take shape and I wondered just how high it would go ! Stay tuned for more of the story !