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Monday, 9 May 2011

Portals for Mortals

The World From Inside K Howell Acrylic on Paper 21 cm x 14 cm
     The way in is the way out. What's not to love about a chamber tomb? A curious place of passage; empty, but full of Continuity. Neolithic Long Barrows are very accommodating.
      Inside, the air is separate; in May, it's obviously colder. A Barrow is essentially an artificial cave, carefully made to shelter the dead, to provide a resting point on the journey. Part of the landscape, a place of reincorporation with the earth.
     From the inside, the stillness and the careful rhythm of stone shape a window to the world. From the outside, the structure is built and marked as a ritual place, distinct and sacred. A swell in the land, a gateway.
     So much more than a Dead End.
     Five millennia later, the work of  James Turrell  draws on this tradition of creating resonant space and shaping a portal to the outside world. The Deer Shelter "Skyspace" at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a fine example of his work. Not quite a Long Barrow, but the next best thing.

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