NO RUINED STONES
We must be humble. We are so easily baffled by appearances
And do not realise that these stones are one with the stars.
It makes no difference to them if they are high or low,
Mountain peak or ocean floor, palace, or pigsty.
There are plenty of ruined buildings in the world but no ruined stones.
HUGH MACDIARMID, ON A RAISED BEACH
For a number of years now artist Alison Grant has divided her time between Scotland and Wiltshire and this exhibition has grown out of her fascination with Avebury with the interlocking embrace of the town and the stones, with the legends attached to the coming of the stones, the mysterious history of the neolithic farmers by whom they were first raised, with the casting down of the stones by the newly Christian Anglo-Saxons, with the mediaeval pillaging of the stones for building materials for home and church, pigsty and pub, and with the rediscovery of the true significance of the stones by amateur antiquarians and geologists at the dawning of the age that saw itself as the age of reason. Above all the exhibition reflects Grant's fascination with the stones themselves, their power and endurance, their obdurate defiance of the passing years and the changes time has wrought.
Many of the works in this exhibition are the result of close and concentrated attention to the Avebury stones, their form, their chemical composition even, or to the vegetation that has spread across their surface; others, mindful of the truism that a prehistoric site such as this is a landscape rather than a monument, look beyond the stones to their wider surroundings, to the sky above and the earth below. This landscape is not merely depicted in these works, but enters into them in the most literal sense, as Grant has gathered mud from molehills, robbed-out rock from badger setts and dirt from her own boots after days spent tramping among the stones, and incorporated these elements into the works.
No Ruined Stones is at once an exhibition of austere and haunting beauty, a deeply engaged evocation of place, a meditation on the nature of time and on humanity's relationship to it, and an expression of the sense of the meeting in this one spot of time present and time past and, perhaps, time future too.
Gregor Sloss, 2020