Touch-Stones by Audrey Baldwin for SCAPE Public Art Season 2019

Image courtesy of the artist and SCAPE Public Art.

‘Children collect stones during play, imbuing them with special meaning, often holding onto them and carrying them home. Many cultures have customs regarding different kinds of stones. Stones hold history, meaning a sense of place and tūrangawaewae.’ – Audrey Baldwin

Audrey Baldwin is a connecter; of people, stories and string. Touch–Stones was a three part artwork which began with the artist inviting communities to come together to learn a simple crafting technique for making rope. Participants were encouraged to contribute stories and an anchor stone – a rock, pebble, crystal or bead – to be woven into the cord. The finished rope was a repository for conversations and memories shared.

The second stage of Touch–Stones was a performance at Tūranga, led by choreographer Josie Archer. Using the rope, ten performers (or fingers) mapped the patterns of a giant string game, or whai as it’s known here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Several iconic forms were created, from Cat’s Cradle to Wahine to Tāne. String games have been played for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years by children in Africa, Eastern Asia, Europe and around the Pacific.

In its final incarnation Touch–Stones became an installation of 200 metres of rope, braided into a canopy for visitors to pass under. An artwork created by the hands of many makers, Touch–Stones, says Baldwin, ‘weaves our stories together – appreciating each strand and how together they form a strong, varied and unified whole’.