High on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire (UK), there is a large and strangely-shaped grey stone. It attracts many visitors, and a common complaint from walkers is that they searched but could not find it.
This is the polissoir, a sarsen stone that was used around 5,000 years ago to shape stone axe heads, grinding and polishing them into being.
Most of these axe heads were made of flint, a common local stone. Some, however, were made of exotic types of stone taken from locations in Cornwall, the Lake District, and other far-off places. These stone axe heads are found by archaeologists many hundreds of miles away from their sources. This prehistoric connection across such great distances was the subject of my contribution to PLACEing.
By exhibiting a small, portable, version of the polissoir, with a flint axe head to grind on its rough, hard surface, I hoped to make a connection between the active experience of shaping the axe head and a remote location that participants could only imagine.
Through this work - the exhibited piece, the actions and energy required to shape the axe head - feelings and thoughts emerge. Physical feelings of stretched muscles and cramped joints, the smell of the ground flint, the contrasting surfaces, the tiniest emergent correspondence with the past. With these things in mind, it was so valuable for me to learn from other participants about the affective and communicative powers of materials, and making landscapes through materials.