The first time I walked below the Keystone Bridge in 2001, I was so fascinated by the stone walls, their darkeness and forms, that for six months I walked a distance of 80 feet either side of the bridge. I observed and felt the way light would filter through the trees, off windows of houses up at street level, a soft light, softening and opening the stone surfaces.
As the ice builds, collapses, and reforms along the quarry wall, the dark greens, purples, oranges and blues persist. The ice remains as a silent spectator. I look at the ice at first, and then see beyond and below it.
Walking below the Keystone Bridge is always a quieting experience for me. Ironic for the cars and trucks whizzing by above the top of the bridge, and the contrast deep in walking and being grounded by the granite dome. And always the opportunity to enter silence.
“Chapters on a Quarry Wall (CQW),’ became the title and focus of my photographic work centered on the abandoned quarries of Cape Ann. CQW followed me to New York and the ‘Works on Paper Show in 2002-2003. And as I began to spend more time with the quarry walls and stone, an alphabet of forms emerged. Not a form of speech – a form of touch, smell, vowels locked in a chant of deep space, deep time. Time at a non-human scale. Cezanne in speaking of the Bibemus Quarries remarked, “I cannot attain the intensity which unfolds before my senses.” As time has passed and the images have grown into a body of work, the question of seeing, of holding what is sensed, from within. The image above ‘Holy Week No.1,’ is the very first vertical hand held panorama, I returned with from the quarry. It stands as a figurative representation, ambiguous verticals which are drill marks, but verticals which quickly become a tree of life.
I’ve decided I want to blog more. Right from the start. I will be posting on this blog once a day / once a week for all of 2011.
I know it will be much like moving granite blocks, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. And slow, with misteps and broken pieces to be swept up for reuse.
Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.
If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.
This panorama is viewed at sunset. There is an eerie quality which results from the break in the wall. A horizon line which is always ‘just there,’ in our vision, is distended, broken. And we look back onto Hog Island and the Ipswich coast, which now seem so close at hand. The backlighting at sunset also contributes to the far as close phenomena.
The Natural Stone Photography of Leslie D. Bartlett
A long-time resident of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Leslie Bartlett’s appreciation of his local surroundings evolved over the past ten years into a photographic exploration of its landscape and the expressive qualities of its unique light. This exhibition focuses on one series from this collection, including images of stone quarries on Cape Ann, as well as the famous “Rock of Ages” quarry of Barre, Vermont.
Bartlett’s stonescapes are a sensitive tribute to the basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Demonstrating how careful documentation can become poetry, Bartlett records the world as he finds it, but with a frame of vision that intends to act upon the viewer and shift one’s perception. Landscapes that would otherwise be passed by quickly, are given due attention and take on a monumentality of scale and importance.
The photographer’s expert selection of surreal, natural occurrences and compelling juxtapositions invite the spectator to enter into a contemplative engagement. The result is a layering of observations as one becomes more conscious. One is reminded of how to look and how to be within oneself to truly see. With this gift of the reverential gaze, one is treated to a moment of transcendence when one connects with life on a deeper level and even the earthbound stone can become ethereal.
Although violent and human forces may have created the main object, Bartlett provides visual interest and psychological comfort by surprising us with an harmonious order. Perhaps, it is the beneficent light – the kindest aspect of the fire element that gives warmth and life – that accords with the observer. Bartlett’s arresting photographs offer a perpetual opportunity to experience the natural world with an immediacy and freshness that few are able to find, as well as a lesson on how to behold.
Rebecca A. G. Reynolds
Curator of the John and Margaret Manship Collection,
formerly of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston