Pareidolia in Stone

Pareidolia in Stone

Pareidolia has been defined as the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual – as in animal forms in clouds. This is based in early awareness mechanisms for seeing and avoiding danger in our ancestors; those who were more aware of two potentially dangerous eyes in a shaded wood were more likely to survive.

I free-carve stone, tiny pieces of the planet; I find them in quarries, in stone yards, or in places of geological interest, including the hillside I live on in Southern Tuscany.

I work with pieces that speak to me in some way. They may have interesting forms in their structures, or wonderful colours, or evocative figurations on their surfaces. Guided by the stones, I carve them into heads, torsos and discs.

I put into them something of my own mind, seeing in them the history of the creation of the planet, which can then touch on the creation of our solar system, and beyond. I am also alive to the connection between all matter.

It seems industrialisation has caused us to misread the planet we live on, and our relationship to it, which is in fact one of complete dependence, no separation. It is a kind of pareidolia, where we see something in nature to exploit, that we hope will improve our capacity to live safely. We have seen the planet as a mindless resource, to be used and abused, whereas in fact it is the great creator of every part of our being and deserving of the uttermost respect.

These sculptures call to our inner knowledge of who we might be, showing a quietness, a kind of stillness carried in the stone, an understanding that we are children of a magical planet, which gives life and meaning to everything. They show a profound gratitude for the gift of life, and deep compassion for all our fellow creatures and life forms, manifesting as unmitigated respect for our Great Mother Planet.

Emily Young, Santa Croce, September 2023