Tactile Earth


What is your favourite colour may be one of the most popular questions….ever.

I never know what to answer to that.

Colours are great n’all.

But it’s usually a combination of colours, tones and textures that grabs me.

That’s what struck me about a finished rammed earth wall. The combination of colours, texture, an appearance similar to the strata I see in cliffs and exposed rock faces.

It’s like I can feel it, without needing to touch it. It is familiar in so many ways. If an earthen wall could be…comforting? Yes, it is that also, to an extent.

Reclaimed floorboards had a similar effect on me maybe 20 years ago, although I knew not why I liked them so much, or how to express my liking.

Natural plasters, natural pigments, natural textures. There is a ‘something’ there that upon reflection I might feel as a connection, maybe to nature. Maybe to my roots.

I have none of these thoughts or feelings staring at cold, hard, barren, sterile concrete. None of them. I like it a lot as a construction material. It is functional, durable, versatile and can be combined with steel as an incredibly robust composite. But still, empty.

Natural earthen finishes are just more tactile. I want to touch them, press my hand against them and feel the texture, warmth or coolness. There is a natural moisture when I press my hand against rammed earth, or a clay plaster. The effect with concrete is so far from this. Either clammy and sweaty, or bone-dry….never ‘just right’.

Artificial. I don’t want artificial. I want genuine. Perhaps naive and unrealistic? Maybe.

Concrete. Cerebral. I can do anything with it. Anything. No limits right?

But earth…..that’s a warm feeling on my back. I don’t get that thinking about concrete or steel. As useful as they are, they never provoke any glimmers of emotion, no affection.