Art and the Standing Stones

The Standing Stones Series

Art is an inherent foundation of the human experience. Communication through art stretches back in time to the emergence of consciousness in our primitive ancestors as they painted by firelight on the walls of dark caverns. Art communicates at conscious and unconscious levels, beyond the realm of language and logic. It helps the human psyche resolve the tension between existence and non-existence. Of course, art is not confined to only imagery. Music, writing, dance, architecture, and more are forms of art, telling stories about what it means to be a human being.

The Neolithic stone circles of the British Isles form some of the earliest forays into using architecture to facilitate metaphysical connections. We can look beyond the famous Stonehenge structure and find over a thousand of these fascinating circles scattered across Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. The Callanish Stones of the Outer Hebrides predate Stonehenge by several thousand years, and the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands was erected about the same time as Stonehenge. The largest remaining stone circle lies in Avebury, not far from Stonehenge. The Avebury henge measures 331.6 meters (1,088 feet) in diameter.

The stone circles represent a very early form of architectural art. Imagination and creativity were driving our ancestors towards the real-world expression of abstract concepts residing within their psyche. Today the stone circles still engender inspiration with their stark architectural silhouettes imposed against open landscapes.

The Callanish Crowd (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2021. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

The Callanish crowd is digital 2D art depicting stones hewn out of Lewisian Gneiss and erected upon the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. This stone circle is old, but the stone itself stretches back to the beginning of time when the world was young and life had barely gained a foothold on planet Earth. The stones took form in the bowels of the earth some two to three billion years ago.

Brodgar Twins (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2021. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

Two of the Brodgar Stones stand as ancient sentinels over the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.

Archeologists have been adept at defining the possible role of stone circles as places of social and ritual gatherings. The circles are also known burial sites where the honored dead were laid to rest. But simply defining function does not convey the emotional and spiritual content of these structures. The henges must have transmitted a sense of meaning to these Neolithic people as ancient human minds strayed from the strict necessity of survival to contemplate human existence and the journey from birth to death.

The three works of art below depict stages in the relationships between humans, standing stones, and a mysterious universe.

Genesis of the Standing Stones

Genesis of the Standing Stones (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2016. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

Genesis of the Standing Stones incorporates sketches from the Avebury site in England. Two stones are cast into a surreal landscape suspended between this world and a world unseen — products of the human mind and its metaphysical wanderings. The work is composed from acrylic on canvas using palette knife techniques.

The Standing Stones

Standing Stones (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2021. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

Taken from a sketch done at the Avebury site, this work depicts the emergence of human awareness, with human form wrestling its way out of the middle stone.  The original work is on a 5 ft. by 6 ft. acrylic on canvas.

Exodus of the Standing Stones

Exodus of the Standing Stones (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2020. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

Exodus of the Standing Stones, is set against a landscape taken from the Isle of Skye. Despite the island’s abundant foul and rainy weather, its mountains blossom into an expansive and ancient scene of remarkable beauty when the sun shines. The age of the stone circles disappeared as pre-modern cultures developed, and the henges faded into the mists of memory. This graphic depiction of the passing of humankind’s early cultures marks a time when the expansion of human creativity could combine with new technology, paving the way for a journey that eventually led us to the emerging world of crypto art. Art moved from imagination to analog, and now back into the ether.

The work of our Neolithic ancestors utilized raw materials provided by mother nature. Their stone circles were creations of the human mind, but there is also beauty in the stone itself.

Stone Art (Copyright Archean Enterprises, LLC 2021. All Rights Reserved) Artist: WM House

The flowing internal structure of three billion-year-old Lewisian Gneiss weathers into beautiful, gnarled forms on this Callanish stone. (Digital 2D art)

Stone circles provide glimpses into the past. Today they provide us with the remnants of cultures where early artists and architects expressed their inner visions as tangible works of creative artistry. Art is as old as humanity, and while the tools and techniques of the artists have changed, then need for human creativity to express itself remains a driving force in the human experience.