Dry stone bench connects generations 0
Artist Aaron Galbraith sits with Carole Finn on Spirit of the Wild, a dry-stone bench Galbraith created. Finn commissioned the work for the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and it was unveiled Aug. 6, 2012. The work was made to memorialize Finn's husband Don. Galbraith started his career working for the Finns. JENN WATT/HALIBURTON ECHO/QMI AGENCY
There will be no plaque to spell out the significance of the dry-stone bench at the head of Haliburton’s Sculpture Forest.
Even if there were, it couldn’t encapsulate its meaning.
Spirit of the Wild, a granite seat amongst the raspberry bushes overlooking some of the most awe-inspiring sculptures in the forest, will keep its history to itself.
But that’s OK.
Carole Finn, local artist and community booster, donated the bench in memory of her late husband Don.
The pair used to wander through the paths lined with artwork adjacent to Fleming College before Don passed away in 2008.
It was one of their favourite things to do together, and now the piece – both functional and beautiful – will serve to make others’ experience more enjoyable.
“There will always be good vibes there,” Finn said following the unveiling of the piece at the Forest Aug. 6.
“Don and I always wanted to do something in the Sculpture Forest and I got thinking about the bench,” she said.
This is the second bench Finn has commissioned from local artist Aaron Galbraith.
Their connection is long-reaching and deep-rooted.
Galbraith, 33, got his start in stonework at the Finns’ home, where he worked on their gardens.
He started with menial tasks when he was 15 years old and was eventually given more responsibility.
One day they asked him to make a granite walkway and he took to it.
“They always told me it looked great,” Galbraith said to a crowd of spectators following the unveiling.
Galbraith moved from a walkway to a more sophisticated type of work called dry stonework, where no grout or mortar is used.
Stones are fitted together so precisely that the end result is a sturdy wall, pillar or bench.
“Stone can be a very challenging [medium] to work with,” Galbraith said.
It also jived well with Don Finn, a thoroughly Irish man, who loved stone and loved everything harkening back to the Emerald Isle, which is known for its stonewalls.
Measuring seven-by-three feet, the granite top weighs a staggering 1,400 pounds, with the many smaller rocks weighing 4,500 pounds.
Using hammers, chisels and “good luck,” Galbraith laboured for the equivalent of seven days putting together the piece.
In its heart sits another nugget of significance: a mossy stone from the Finns’ farm.
Their son, Eoin, came up with the bench’s name, which Galbraith then interpreted.
When a person dies, their body is disconnected from the soul, he explained, the soul being what endures.
The granite that memorializes Don, then, is much like the soul. Enduring.
See more in Tuesday's Haliburton Echo.