Found in a dune and polished in a port, Embleton speaks of permanence when the waves come crashing. The artist and the landscape persevere. Crystalline frosting on the underside moves from Northumberland skies to the whispering pinks of the burnet roses and bloody cranesbills found in the dunes. A gilded area at one end highlights a major break-up. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Russ rented a place in East Yorkshire, where this Gneiss boulder was buried, probably hiding from a plough. After being coaxed from its hiding place, sand-blasting allowed more aspects of its character to be revealed. Woody twists, folded layers of grey and creases of white minerals tell the tales of its dynamic birth. Polishing brought to light the quartzite vein traversing one end. The pockets of that vein are now filled with gold.
Dark grey when Russ found it, Featherstone 1 revealed a galaxy of green when he started to work on this hard igneous rock. Polishing brought out near-pink mottling, with verdant veins and black smudges. A break, which occurred at some unknown point in its history, is celebrated with gilt. There are hints of nebula images captured by the Hubble Telescope, showing not all that glistens has to be gold.
Animal, vegetable and mineral come together in Featherstone 2, where leathery browns move to rich chestnut in a boulder that surfaced from the River Tyne. At first, it appeared very similar to Featherstone 1, but grinding showed it had a completely different personality. The light reflecting off the pair of gilded facets recalls the way the sun shines on the river where Russ found this beautiful stone.
Russ came to the rescue of this Northumbrian red porphryite, which had previously formed part of the wall infill of a Victorian hospital. Even on a demolition spoil heap, it seemed special, and concentrated work with an angle grinder accentuated its wonderful planes and edges. Hard and dense, from a distance this seems to be terracotta in colour. On closer inspection, this particular piece of baked earth is flecked with blacks, greys, whites and pinks, dancing before the viewer’s eyes. Turn it round to find a prospector’s dream: the gold standard being truly met on the one rough facet of this real smoothy.
Unearthed by civil engineers, this stone is unusual as it is seems to be the smaller part of a much larger boulder which has been completely cleaved. It might be fanciful to think the rest of this boulder lies under Hadrian’s Wall, but there is no doubt Russ’s careful grinding and polishing has brought out the most beautiful black in this basalt. The severed side has been completely gilded, bearing sparkling witness to magnificent impact. A reminder that there is beauty in what remains.
Smooth and clean with an understated edge, Mappleton was a boulder found by Russ at the foot of a muddy cliff in Holderness, the most rapidly eroding shoreline in Europe. Unlike many of the artist’s other works from this period, it is without breaks and shakes. With a colour somewhere between grey and green with hints of copper and gold, there was no compulsion to gild this metamorphic lily. Instead, Russ chose to carve his stonemason’s mark loud and proud, making the artist’s signature an integral part of the piece.