Square I journal extract

Square I/ The history of it  (journal extracts) – Volkhardt Müller
From Postbridge it’s a one hour walk up the East Dart to the granite boulder that is situated about 250 metres south east of Sandy Hole Pass. We can see it from about half a kilometre away as we reach the top of the hill after ascending the cascading Dart. Getting closer we pass a number of parallel running stretches of granite rubble. Man made formations – presumably debris from tin mining – they are about 6 foot high, up to 200 foot long and between 10 and 30 foot wide.  The bolder sits behind the rubble at a narrowing of the valley like a sentry facing the morning sun. It is an eye catcher from a distance.  From the side it looks like the back of a large animal immersed in mud. There are the remains of tin miners’ huts and mysteriously arranged retaining dry stone walls close by.
My usual pace for building retaining walls is 1-1.5sqm /day. This goes a lot slower. The challenge is to build a perfectly vertical, free-standing wall onto the  slope of the granite boulder without touching it. That is trimming a ledge to securely rest the bottom stones on, which is an in-built structural weakness.  I work four days over the course of two weeks. I carry a tent, food, a camera and tripod to begin with and more later on. The difference between walker and waller:  the walker burns energy and stays warm, the waller has to spend long periods of time watching, standing – and cools down.
I want to keep my interference in the landscape to a minimum so I pick individual stones a few at a time from the rubble pile 50 yards away. A small but well selected quantity is needed. Walking forth and back to the pile takes about 4 minutes. Selecting stone at a distance from the wall means I have to memorize the shapes over time, a less intuitive and fluid process. The rubble is small and requires great accuracy in the laying. Climbing on and off the boulder to lay individual stones is time consuming. The slope is steep and slippery when wet, crouching on it for hours becomes very uncomfortable which doesn’t help concentration.
As I lift the rubble from the pile all sorts of stuff surfaces: plastic milk bottles, a great many tins, sweeties’ wraps and lemonade bottles, all neatly tucked away from sight.
Two figures appear on the horizon and approach over difficult terrain. Old men in their late 70’s – 80s:
“Did you whack that up in your lunch break?”
“No I am afraid it did take a bit longer”
“Very clever… So, seriously – do you know the history of it?”
In driving rain on the final day as I lay the last three stones I slip and knock out the wedge at the bottom. The stucture, well built in itself, stays suspended for a moment before half of it collapses. Jay stares in disbelief. We pack up and leave.
Date: 7th 15th 16th and 19th July 2008
Artist: Volkhardt Müller
Photographs and assistance: Jay Wright

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Square I/ The history of it  (journal extracts)

Sq 1 diary

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From Postbridge it’s a one hour walk up the East Dart to the granite boulder that is situated about 250 metres south east of Sandy Hole Pass. We can see it from about half a kilometre away as we reach the top of the hill after ascending the cascading Dart. Getting closer we pass a number of parallel running stretches of granite rubble. Man made formations – presumably debris from tin mining – they are about 6 foot high, up to 200 foot long and between 10 and 30 foot wide.  The bolder sits behind the rubble at a narrowing of the valley like a sentry facing the morning sun. It is an eye catcher from a distance.  From the side it looks like the back of a large animal immersed in mud. There are the remains of tin miners’ huts and mysteriously arranged retaining dry stone walls close by.

My usual pace for building retaining walls is 1-1.5sqm /day. This goes a lot slower. The challenge is to build a perfectly vertical, free-standing wall onto the  slope of the granite boulder without trimming a ledge to securely rest the bottom stones on, which is an in-built structural weakness.  I work four days over the course of two weeks. I carry a tent, food, a camera and tripod to begin with and more later on. The difference between walker and waller:  the walker burns energy and stays warm, the waller has to spend long periods of time watching, standing – and cools down.

To keep interference in the landscape to a minimum I pick individual stones a few at a time from the debris pile 50 yards away. A small but well selected quantity is needed. Walking forth and back takes about 4 minutes. Selecting stone at a distance means I have to memorize the shapes over time, a less intuitive and fluid process. Rubble is small and requires great accuracy in the laying. Climbing on and off the boulder to lay individual stones is time consuming. Slope is steep and slippery when wet, crouching on it for hours becomes very uncomfortable and doesn’t help concentration.

As I lift the rubble from the pile all sorts of stuff surfaces: plastic milk bottles, a great many tins, sweeties’ wraps and lemonade bottles, all neatly tucked away from sight.

Two figures appear on the horizon and approach over difficult terrain. Old men in their late 70’s – 80s:

“Did you whack that up in your lunch break?”

“No I am afraid it did take a bit longer”

“Very clever… So, seriously – do you know the history of it?”

In driving rain on the final day as I lay the last three stones I slip and knock out the wedge at the bottom. The stucture, well built in itself, stays suspended for a moment before half of it collapses. Jay stares in disbelief. We pack up and leave.

Date: 7th 15th 16th and 19th July 2008