Stones: a work in progress
An ongoing project
2018 - now
"We tend to imagine stone as inert matter, obdurate in its fixity. [...] Seen in deep time, stone folds as strata, gouts as lava, floats as plates, shifts as a shingle. Over eons, rock absorbs, transforms, levitates, from seabed to summit. Down here, too, the boundaries between life and non-life are less clear"
- Robert Macfarlane in Underland
We see stones as inanimate, so vastly different from our own warm and breathing body. But seen in the amazingly long stretch of deep-time, matter that seemed inert suddenly comes to life, creating a new context in which it becomes clear that our understanding of life is based on the perspective of our own short lifespans.
Clay, also, was once stone. Whole mountains got broken down into micro-particles over millions of years by wind, rain, snow, glaciers, hot summers, and organic acids. But the magic of clay lies in its metamorphic properties: exposed to high temperatures, clay turns back into stone. The geological process in which magma turned into solid stone, and the stone slowly turned into clay, is reversed again when the clay is fired, with ceramic kilns operating at the same temperatures as volcanoes. The discovery that clay can be formed, and chemically transformed by fire into a stone-like, waterproof product, has been essential to human development, making it possible to cook and preserve food, and therefore also to travel and trade over long distances.
By making stones from clay, and transforming clay back into stone again, I want to explore this never-ending cycle of creation in the context of deep-time - questioning our human narrative of time and our definition of life.
As ceramic pieces, these stones become fragile, playing with our understanding of stones, and therefore showing the fragility of a landscape we once thought was stable and unchangeable. They are made into multiples with the lines of the mold still visible in the ceramics, emphasizing the industrial use of natural resources and the colonization of natural bodies for our own purposes.
This series also reflects on stone as our collective memory. Stone tells the creation story of our world and keeps the traces of those who have lived before us: the fossils that got preserved over millions of years, the paintings left behind in caves by the hands of our ancestors, the stone circles from past rituals, the burial stones that marked the people lost. We left our traces in stone, knowing it will keep our story safe. These markings are there to teach us, and create an awareness of our human family of past and future generations. These markings show us how much we have inherited from all the hard work and people that came before us, but it also asks us to think about what we leave behind, for all the beings and millions of years to come.