Nature usually creates in curves. She weaves her physical forms in unfolding cycles of circles and spirals.         

But in pockets along the coast here, she writes in tall linear columns.

Long shafts of basalt rock emerge from the sea and reach for the sky.

And bits of the columns break off forming stepping stones that spiral down into another dimension.

Columnar basalt pillars                    Columnar basalt pillars 


Columnar Basalt

Columnar basalt is the name geologists give to basalt columns like this and the most famous outcrop is

The Giant’s Causeway on the northern tip of Ireland - enshrouded in myth and mystery.


The standard explanation for columnar basalt formation is that when a big volume of volcanic basalt cools quickly it contracts.

The big mass can shrink in the vertical dimension without cracking, but it can’t absorb the shrinkage stress horizontally. So it cracks into columns.

The slower the cooling, the bigger the columns. Baby columns come from quicker cooling. We have both here.


But for me, these curious columns have a presence and a grandeur far beyond their geology.

They seem to be storing something. Or broadcasting something.

They seem to be tuning to and playing with natural frequencies like some giant-sized instrument.

They hint at other ways from other days.


So I listen, often and long, to their strong silent song.

And I paint it.

I first painted the columns years ago, soon after I arrived here.


The Way Through

                 The Way Through. Painting by Wendy Laurenson                   


One area of columns on our coast is particularly alive.

It broadcasts in resonance with the pulsed surges of the sea.

This painting was born of that place.

I called it The Way Through.






Stored in Stone

Stored in Stone. Painting by Wendy Laurenson 

And more recently, the columns have inspired another painting.

This tall painting suggests something may be stored in the columns of stone.

There’s mystery there.

Something slightly out of reach........but getting closer. 

In its own way.

On its own day.    

This painting is called Stored in Stone.                                                                                                                        







On the Way to the Painting... 



The Rocks that Remember

The Rocks that Remember. Painting by Wendy Laurenson


I have also just completed a smaller painting of the stone columns and the stepping stones called The Rocks that Remember.  

It’s different from, but related to, the tall Stored in Stone painting. A smaller sister.

These stones will continue to sing out their stories - and inspire new images.   



Columnar basalt pillar tops.

“Rocks and minerals: the oldest storytellers.” 
― A.D. Posey