Sunday, November 01, 2009


One of the ways we can view artists as having affected the physical landscape before the advent of land art is through their requirement for raw materials.  The marble quarries of Carrara and Pietrasanta, for example, were partly the creation of Michelangelo.  A less dramatic but still significant impact on local areas comes from the concentration of artists living and working there - whether it be Montmartre or Pont Aven.  And a combination of these influences can be found in villages or distrcits devoted to particular crafts.  Here is a paragraph from Brian Moeran's Folk Art Potters of Japan in which he describes the soundscape of Sarayama.

'Ever since Sarayama was founded, wooden crushers have been used to pound the clay with which generation after generation of potters have worked. The two streams running through the village have been stepped in a series of five-to-six foot dams the whole length of the valley, and water is drawn from these along channels to the crushers. Each crusher is made from a large pine-tree trunk between four and five metres in length, with one end hollowed out into a scoop. Into this the river water is director. The crusher is critically balanced on a cross-axle of wood, so that when the scoop is filled the weight of the water makes the crusher seesaw down toward the river bed. As the other end of the pine beam rises high into the air, the water flows out of the scoop and the crusher falls back with a thud onto a mound of clay piled under the far end. The noise that the crushers make cannot be expressed adequately in words. It is this sound that dominates everything that goes on in the valley, all day, all night, every day and every night, except for one respite of 24 hours from the New Year’s Eve. The potters can tell from the changes in the thudding rhythm of the day how much water is in the streams, whether their crushers are working, and if so, how efficiently. These pounding pine trunks… belong to a world of which people living in industrialised urban Japan can only dream.'

1 comment:

Sir walter turf brisbane said...

I can imagine the beauty of this concept while reading out your post. I can imagine how it works and how mesmerizing the sound of water would be. I wish i could see the image of the same.