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1 The Unspoken


Hayashi Takeshi's 'Ishima-Edinburgh', shown at STONE exhibition, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England

"Even granite is heightened by human touch. Continual contact with hands and clothes causes nearly all stones to develop a smooth surface which is seldom observed to flake off."

—Adrian Stokes, Stones of Rimini

1. Stone is silent, but it has a voice. The quarryman tests a stone by tapping it with a hammer: if there is an unseen crack it will make a dull thud. A stone without cracks will sing.

2. Touch is silent. Stone comes alive through touch.

3. A large part of any skill is unspoken. The craftsman soon discovers that there is unnamed knowledge embedded in action.

4. Art inhabits the unnamed. Art makes visible the invisible, but even when it does so it stays unnamed.

We refer to everything that exist in the unspoken realm as 'tacit', a word with a root that means 'to be silent.' The Tacit is unnamed, which is not the same as being invisible. The act of naming has parallels with the process of becoming visible.


Sculptor Karl Prantl connects with one of his sculptures at his Pottschinger studio, St Margarethan, Austria.Crane operator Jake Gillie manouvers a block of limestone into position on his lorry.


It is within the unspoken, the unnamed, or the silent that human interaction with stone becomes most alive. Many stone working skills take shape in areas separate from the spoken. When we are learning a skill, verbal instructions will only take us so far. Explaining to someone how to ride a bicycle will not cause that person to learn the skill. Unless the body picks up all the unspoken nuances there can be no success. A huge amount of learning occurs tacitly, and as such is not addressed directly. We can learn more, and we can know more than can be said. We exceed boundaries

Not only much of what we can be as a human being exists in an unnamed state, but also what we are. We cannot tell exactly how it works, or see it directly. The only thing we can say is that it exists separate from language. Language appears to be completely in service to us, a tool that is entirely ours, expressed in our voice and emerging from our minds and mouths. Yet somehow, due to the way it sorts out possibilities, language does our thinking for us.

The tacit is more likely to be present in situations where body and mind are being integrated. Bicycle riding follows a pattern frequently found in tool use. From the moment a tool is put into action it begins to orchestrate balance. Whether the Tacit is physical or not, it seems to be involved with balance. It also lives comfortably in the body.

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