SGLH visit to Crawick Multiverse: by Lewis Hall

Coffee and cake upon arrival was all the more enjoyable in the company of trustees Cathy Agnew and Patrick Lorimer, who very kindly took the time to give us a warm welcome to Crawick Multiverse.

After some introductory remarks from the trustees and SGLH chair, Matt Benians, the group set off from ‘The Coalface’ – the Multiverse’s hub of operations – and headed along the upper eastern path called ‘Comet Walk’. With Cathy and Patrick among our party we were capably led by Operations Manager and tour guide extraordinaire, Brian Johnson.

The Crawick Multiverse was designed by American-born Landscape Designer, Charles Jencks, and is located on what was once an open cast coal mine. After operations ceased in the latter decades of the 20th-century, landowner the Duke of Buccleuch invited Jencks to site in the hope that a new vision for the area might be conceived. And so it was.

Work began in 2012 and Crawick Multiverse was opened to the public in 2015.

 

Split down the middle by a cardinally aligned processional route, the site masterplan, as we understood it, was an allegory of our own Solar System and the celestial bodies therein. With the ‘Sun Amphitheatre’ at its core the surrounding landforms, sculpture, and rock arrangements appear to be in orbit of the sites centre. Jencks’ last addition to the Multiverse and our group’s first encounter was ‘Cosmic Collisions’. The piece, interpreted as chaos and order expressed through elemental medium, resembled the aftermath of a heavenly body colliding with the surface of the Earth. A tremor-inducing thought indeed.

The next stop on our journey through the Cosmos we gathered amidst an avenue of stone monoliths, which Jencks recovered from the site. The avenue itself acts as a solstitial marker running North to South and appears to go on as far as the eye can see. Separating the site perfectly down the middle. As though unconsciously prompted, it wasn’t long before the stones ushered the group into the heart of the amphitheatre and were arranged around a depiction in stone and mortar of a Solar Flare’s ionised particles being deflected by our Earth’s magnetosphere. A gentle reminder of the fragility of our very existence.

Jencks’ work at the Multiverse, it became quickly apparent, had an innate ability to provoke a sense of introspection in the experiencer. Similarly, his depictions of The Milky Way and Andromeda, had the ability to generate a sweat on the brow. Ascending the spiralling footpaths of the enormous landforms they culminated in breath taking views of the surrounding landscape, with stone circles in their foreground. The group couldn’t help but feel as though lost in some prehistoric settlement.

Before enjoying lunch back at the comfort of ‘The Coalface’ our visit culminated atop ‘The Belvedere’, the highest and most Northerly point of the Multiverse. The stone sculpture on the peak represents a hand pointing toward Polaris, our North Star, encouragement to look up – toward the heavens. One can’t help but survey the surrounding horizons of Dumfries and Galloway, and experience the Crawick Multiverse from a perspective that Charles Jencks himself must have imagined before its realisation.

Many thanks to Lewis Hall for writing up our visit to Crawick Multiverse and kindly agreeing to us publishing his photographs.