Land art is something I generally like the idea of, but don't seem to have found the time to learn more about, though there was an exhibition about it at la Roche Jagu a few years ago, which piqued my curiosity.
When it comes to those pebble towers by the seashore, which have become as ubiquitous if not more so in greeting card imagery as that Zen gravel raked into circles and swirls, or baskets full of spices or coloured pigments on Indian markets (in fact I've still got rather a fondness for the latter...), I was quite charmed by them initially but by the end of the first decade of this century I could say I wouldn't have minded if I never saw another photograph of them.
However, a couple of things lately have made me review my jaded attitude. Our friend Isobel recently went on a land art course down by the sea in Morbihan, and is quite in love with the whole subject. She described the process of building them with such enthusiasm, about how you had to embrace the stones, and feel the centre of balance in them with your whole body (she is a dancer too), building up the stack slowly and with concentration, and how they then sat and waited for the sea to come and dismantle their work, and how surprisingly resistant to it the most apparently precarious of the structures were. It sounded very beguiling, and had something of the same charm as the theatre of objects which she has also introduced me to: an ephemeral art form made from things which are already there, perishable things in the process of disappearing, or things which have always been there and will continue to be, but not necessarily in the fugitive form in which we have arranged them.
The other experience which has helped me learn to love pebble towers was something we saw at la Pointe de la Torche, at the southern end of the Route du Vent Solaire. This is a magnificent spot with the disadvantage of being invaded by a very commercialised surfing scene on its wilder, north-facing side of which more perhaps later. However, on its gentler southern aspect, we came across an entire city - or was it a forest? - of pebble edifices.
of all shapes and sizes.
There was something so balanced and still and patient about them, especially in contrast to the frenetic, gregarious intrusiveness of the surfers. They made one smile and sigh. Another lovely thing about them was they were in a continual process of making, people, mostly children, were free to move among them and add to them, and the thoughtfulness and focus they required was evident in their movements.
So, I am quite converted to pebble towers!
A smaller but also pleasing example was at the top of the bay, near to Audierne, these characters,
who also brought a smile.
I must find out more about land art...
Poem of the Week, by Jane Hirshfield
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