Friday, 20 January 2017

The Magic Wall

So I heard that song on the radio (EARWORM WARNING!) and it starts with the lines:

I'm going down to Florence, gonna wear a pretty dress
I'll sit atop the Magic Wall with the voices in my head.

I looked for the Magic Wall online and, lo and behold, this is it:

The Wichahpi Wall in Alabama is an extraordinary piece of outsider art, created over 30 years by a single guy called Tom Hendrix in memorial of his great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay, a Yuchi Indian deported on the Trail of Tears back in the 1830s, when she was 14. She hated life on the reservation so much that she took off and walked the 700 miles home.

Each stone in the wall - 9 million lbs in total weight he estimates - represents one step of her extraordinary 5-year journey. Hendrix has included rocks from all over the world, including Antarctica, and even a meteorite.

The wall winds about and folds back on itself. In total it is 1.25 miles long, making it the longest unmortared stone wall in America, and reportedly the largest memorial in existence to a woman.

It's a piece of art I find incredibly moving.

It's also a fine example of our instinct to sacralize the landscape. I suspect we have an inbuilt tendency, many of us, to see the spiritual and the natural together. That way lies the slippery slope of pantheistic paganism, of course - so the monotheistic religions do their best to cut sacred spaces off from nature, enclosing worshippers in synagogues, mosques and churches with no exterior view. But nature creeps back into those faiths in the form of sacred wells, stones, mountains and caves. And folk spirituality is drawn to the landscape, its first home. 

There are more photos of the Magic Wall  here

And this is Tom Hendrix talking about his project:

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