Admission is always free Directions

Open today: 10:00 to 5:00

Inscription

OCTOBER 11, 2003

I ARRIVED LATE LAST NIGHT AND WENT TO THE ISLAND THIS MORNING. IT IS MUCH SMALLER THAN I EXPECTED BUT WHAT AN INTERESTING PLACE. THE PROMINENCE OF THE BUILDINGS THAT CAME OUT OF IT, THE CAPITOL AND THE WHITE HOUSE AMONGST THEM ARE IN SUCH CONTRAST TO THIS MODEST, INTIMATE, HIDDEN PLACE.

I AM HERE BECAUSE THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN WASHINGTON DC HAS ASKED ME TO MAKE A PROPOSAL FOR THEIR COLLECTION. I SUGGESTED THAT AS A STARTING POINT THAT I WORK IN THE QUARRIES FROM WHICH SOME OF THE BUILDINGS OF WASHINGTON WERE TAKEN. I HOPED THAT BY GOING TO THE CITY'S PHYSICAL SOURCE THAT I MIGHT GAIN INSIGHT TO ITS ORIGIN, CONNECTION AND RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAND.

THE EXTRACTION OF STONE HAS LEFT THE ISLAND MORE INTERESTING THAN IF IT HAD NOT BEEN TOUCHED. NOT ONLY HAS BEEN ENRICHED BY THE WORKING AND HISTORY OF THE PLACE IT IS ALSO A MORE DIVERSE ENVIRONMENT.

THE QUARRYING HAS LEFT HOLES IN THE ISLAND. I AM REMINDED OF INFORMATION MY SON RECENTLY FOUND ON THE INTERNET ABOUT A PLACE CALLED GOLDSWORTHY IN AUSTRALIA;

"ONCE A MINING TOWN WITH A POPULATION OF ABOUT 500, GOLDSWORTHY NO LONGER EXISTS. ALL THAT REMAINS TO MARK THE TOWN IS A ROW OF TREES BY THE ROAD.

BEFORE MINING TOOK PLACE, MOUNT GOLDSWORTHY WAS 132 METRES HIGH, NOW IT IS JUST A BIG HOLE IN THE GROUND."

LEAVING A HOLE IS NOT LIKE LEVELLING A HILL. I PREFER A QUARRY THAT LEAVES AS MUCH, IF NOT MORE, SURFACE AREA THAN BEFORE IT BEGAN.

I STRUGGLED TO FIND SOMETHING TO MAKE. THE LEAVES HAVE HARDLY BEGUN TO CHANGE COLOUR AND I ONLY FOUND A FEW RED LEAVES TO WORK WITH. I STUCK THESE WITH WATER TO THE TIP OF A TAPERED ROCK IN ONE OF THE OVERGROWN QUARRIES THAT POCKET THE ISLAND - DRAWING THE STONE TO A RED POINT. THE COMBINATION OF RED AND A POINT HAS A VIOLENCE ABOUT IT. A PASSER BY SAID IT LOOKED LIKE BLOOD.

ALTHOUGH THE DISUSED QUARRIES ARE NOW SETTLED THERE WAS A TIME WHEN THE EFFORTS OF EXTRACTING THE STONE WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE PLACE, AT TIMES, VIOLENT ENERGY.

THE RED LEAVES ON THE STONE CHANGED WITH THE LIGHT - BECOMING MORE VIVID AS THE SUN SHONE DIFFUSELY THROUGH THE HAZY SKY. AN ELUSIVE RED. IT WILL BE MORE EVIDENT IN A WEEK OR SO WHEN THE OPENING OF THE CANOPY WILL ALLOW MORE LIGHT TO REACH THE WOOD FLOOR - AT PRESENT THE LIGHT IS DRY AND DULL. IT NEEDS TO RAIN!

Provenance

The artist; NGA purchase, 2004.