Photograph courtesy of Carol A. Wilson, FAIA.

Carol A. Wilson

Edward Larrabee Barnes the architect is to me as the painter John Bauer was to the Swedes. The Swedes loved him and they believed that no one else knew how to paint a forest. The Swedish illustrator Tove Jansson wrote of Bauer:

“I walk through a forest drawn by John Bauer. He was the one who knew how to make forests, no one has dared try since he was lost. And those who try, we despise them . . . to make the forest big enough, you leave out the crowns of the trees and the sky. You just make straight and very thin trunks that rise straight up. The ground is soft hillocks, they continue farther and farther off, smaller and smaller, until the forest becomes endless. There are stones, too, but you cannot see them. Moss has grown peacefully over them for a thousand years. If you step on the moss, you make a deep hole that doesn’t fill for a week. If you step on it again, you have made a hole that lasts forever. Step on it a third time, and the moss dies.

In a properly painted forest everything is roughly the same color, the moss, the tree trunks, and the branches; it is something gentle and serious, somewhere between grey and brown and green but there’s only a little bit of green.”

We think of the Maine landscape as rugged, but the mosses and lichens that cover the ledge are fragile. When architects speak of “touching the earth lightly,” Haystack is my benchmark.

Carol A. Wilson, FAIA
14 Longwoods Road
Falmouth, Maine 04105