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The music of stones
Dispatch from Writing with the Seasons - July 2023
Welcome to ‘Writing with the Seasons’. In 2023, I’m sharing short dispatches alongside our longer monthly essays and audio courses.
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Artist Richard Long creates sculptures from the natural landscape. He walks and arranges natural objects like twigs and rocks in geometric configurations. Six Stone Circles from 1961 (below) is one example. Stones found in woodland were gathered in a circle allowing us to see the landscape afresh. The pale stones glow in the light, the trees are distinguished, the ground more solid.
Long is interested in “the music of stones.” How animate they can seem, how common they are yet with deep, ancient resonance. Stones have been used to craft tools, build dwellings, create monuments and mark territory since the earliest times. “Stones are what the world is made of,” Long says.
I recently visited the beautiful village of Avebury, Wiltshire. It’s a place of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites and home to Britain’s largest stone circle.
Standing stones are placed across banks and ditches, each one mystical and unique. All now weathered, textured with green moss. Originally over 150 stones formed three rings here, 36 remain. Some are twice my height, some much smaller.
It’s a curious place. Within the stones, you feel safe, contained. They appear quiet and sedate. Looking at them from afar, they are strange, whispering forms. Long’s words resonated: truly, the music of stones. How alive they are. The stories they could tell.
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