Stone Drawings

My work with stones and language began in 2004 with the installation “Bloom” at Dazibao Gallery in Montreal. It led, in the following year, to 365 arrangements of stones, collected at the seashore, and a drawing a day. The daily arrangements were prompted by a word or phrase I heard or read on that day. Using the drawings as my vocabulary, I began to sort, count, print, layer, cut, sew and paint. I wrote and rewrote the stones. more

The following is my artist’s statement for the 2012 exhibition at Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound, Ontario, Barbara Todd: Teaching a Stone to Talk

Stone Days is a diary of days. All kinds of days: good days, bad days, on days, off days, slow days, stone days.

I’ve always spent part of every August at my grandparents’ cottage on the shores of Lake Huron. It has been the one constant place in my life. Every summer I gathered stones from the beach. For as long as I can remember I have also gathered gems of speech from passing conversations and collected special bits of text. It is a marvel to me how people use language.

For the year 2005 I assigned myself the task of selecting one text for each day. I let the text prompt me to make an arrangement of small stones on a light table. The arrangements were made quickly and intuitively. I then photographed, Photoshopped and printed each day's stone drawing onto vellum. The layering of these translucent images came to constitute the cumulative quality of presence, of memory dissolving into past days.

The immediate physical result of this work was 365 ‘drawings’ on vellum, now contained in two black archive boxes.

You can see a web iteration of the drawings and texts at

The third and ongoing project is the drawings, textile works and wall sculpture that you see in this exhibition.

With the yearlong daily project I built up a vocabulary of shapes from which I drew to create drawings, textile works and wall relief works. Their grounding in language, though not apparent in the abstract shapes, is important to me.

The works in this exhibition are more allusive than illustrative. It might feel very different to be surrounded by these works in this gallery space, than to be sitting at the edge of a great lake, listening to the wind and the waves, but the gift of that recurring experience made this work possible. My Lake Huron is just 30 minutes away from this gallery, in Southampton.

I wish to thank M. Milne and Minnie Todd, and after them Betty and Doug, for making such a special place for four generations.