We have admired Thomas Sayre's magnificent work for a very long time but never imagined we would be lucky enough to have one of his pieces here at the house. After doing small commissions with Patrick Dougherty and Mayme Kratz we became more comfortable with the idea of doing artist commissions and Thomas had come back on our radar in a big way as we followed the making of a new documentary about his work called Earthcaster. We went to see a number of his amazing pieces at the Finkel Garden and fell in love with Marty and Alan Finkel and the wonderful work that Thomas made for them. They shared their stories of a rich history working with Thomas on custom pieces for their garden and we were hooked.
We had Thomas out to Cassilhaus early in 2013 to start a conversation and talked about a number of locations for a piece.
He spent a good bit of time walking the land and talking with us. He was in the middle of several extremely large commissions and these often allow him opportunities to try out new ideas which may prove fruitful for smaller commissions with small budgets :) He wrote late in 2013:
I have done some musings about the possibilities for a piece at your place in recent weeks. As I mentioned to both of you, I have been literally playing in the mud as a variant of earthcasting and am stimulated by the results. I am attaching several photographs of a piece I did recently as part of an international project that involved making a mold out of mud, imposing a circular groove or depression in the mold and then drying the mold to produce a series of wonderful cracks which I was able to capture in the casting.
There is something about the water below your house, the mud which is inevitably in its bottom, and the land itself which water rushes over (given its steepness) which somehow seems resonant. I have thought of some sort of map of the river, or the land, or the tree placement within the land and letting the map dry and crack and be, in a way, reclaimed by the natural event of shrinking mud.
We latched onto the idea of a piece that represented New Hope Creek below our house and made several visits to Thomas' studio to see prototypes.
Thomas was working with a topo map of the land below us. He was making forms filled with mud, working the mud, and then allowing it to harden and crack to form a mold which he then used to cast our pieces.
Thomas sent Blaine and Sean over to start the installation before joining later in the day. We mocked up the placement first so we would decide on a left/right location. The piece was being installed over top of our creeping fig and we are hopeful that it will find its way around it and continue to fill the carport retaining wall.
Thomas doesn't have a name for the piece yet but I am sure that will come as we all live with it. It is the first thing we see when we walk out of the house and it brings the stream up the hill to us. Thank you Thomas for so beautifully capturing our "place" in your work.