The stone of the sculpture FLAGSTONE was chosen because its fluted upper surface gave it the vague appearance of a flag with stripes to the one side. The name FLAGSTONE is a play on this flag-like appearance but an actual flagstone is a flat stone slab, typically rectangular or square, often used for paving or as stepping stone. The English word ‘flagstone’, however, has nothing to do with a flag, but is from Middle English flagge meaning ‘turf’, or perhaps from Old Norse flaga meaning ‘slab’.
Because the fluted ripples on the shiny, black face of the polished stone look as if they might be wet, affected by the force of water, an original Latin phrase was sandblasted on the side of the stone in such a way that the text looks as if it spills over the edge: Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo (A drop of water hollows a stone, not by force, but by continuously dripping – Taken from Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5, written by the Roman poet Ovid, b. Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC – AD 17/18).
The stone functions both as an aesthetic object and as seating.
Belfast black granite
In my stone sculptures I use mostly Belfast black granite, an igneous material formed by magma or lava (molten volcanic rock) cooling and becoming solid. This means that, at some point in time immemorial, granite was a liquid. By polishing the natural rock I take it back, in a symbolic way, to its former molten, amorphous constituency. The ultimate character of my stone sculptures should look as if it has something to do with the rock’s history, with its own ‘memory’ of its liquid essence being moulded and settling in a place. The soil, the bedrock and the earth contains a record (some would even say memory) of past events. The land artist Andy Goldsworthy says: “A stone is ingrained with geological and historical memories.”
In natural stone trade, Belfast Black is simply called a granite, but in geological terms Belfast Black is a black gabbro. Since the name gabbro is relatively unknown to the man in the street, all exporters, traders and manufacturers of stone products conveniently refer to the material as ‘Belfast Black Granite’ or ‘Absolute Black Granite.’ Gabbro is a dark, coarse-grained plutonic rock of crystalline texture, consisting mainly of pyroxene, plagioclase feldspar, and often olivine. Belfast Black Granite is a most impervious stone, highly prized with its market value exceeding that of most granite materials. The town of Belfast in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is often advertised for its well-known black ‘granite,’ the only known and purest deposit in the world of its kind.
The Belfast Black stone for FLAGSTONE was selected from Frans Haarhoff’s farm Boschpoort, where a worked-out quarry contains thousands of granite stones, abandoned and littering the landscape. I derive a great deal of satisfaction when I eliminate intrusive stones and in the process cause a degree of landfill and rehabilitation of the terrain. I rejoice in returning the mining wasteland to the way things were before the mess began, to be a landscape once more.
Belfast Black Granite (Gabbro)
Material and factory: Frans Haarhoff
Size: 2440 mm (length) X 720 mm (width) X 550 mm (thickness)
Weight: 1.8 ton
Base/plinth to be permanently cast once the work reaches its final destination.
The tapering end of the sculpture is to overhang the base.
Text on the work: Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo.