The European Community of Stones is a Community Sculpture from an original artistic concept by Barry Cooper, which he developed in 1989 with John Fisher. It has evolved over 20 years into its present form and was built in the true spirit of democracy by vast community effort, originally inspired by the giant figures of Easter Island.
The concept is a virtual bridge across Europe connecting 12 geological locations, which enables young people from those communities to participate in artistic and cultural exchange. “ECOS is a Pan European musical instrument, which by means of people’s voices, vibrating the strings, we can generate a Song of Life”.
This was symbolised, in 1992, by placing 12 monolithic representatives from each country in the European Community around a forum on an amphitheatre, created from local stone in Frome, Somerset, UK. The Spanish stone from Vigo is 7 metres high; the Belgian stone is 30 tonnes. It was designed by Barry Cooper, Laurence Knee, and John Nankivell.
The forum, which echoes our heritage of standing stones and their associated rituals, is arguably Europe’s most far reaching megalithic sculpture embracing communities over the continent from Evora in Portugal to the island of Paros in the Aegean; it connects Esbjerg in Jutland across to Bantry Bay in western Ireland. This was completed in 2004 with 11 Holm Oak trees and a Portland stone ‘Tree of Life’ (sculpted by Barry Cooper) which represent the role of the European Oak forests in the customs and beliefs associated with our ancestors. Students from Frome Community College designed 12 dancing figures which are set in resin bonded coloured stone on a new stage area.
The site in Frome celebrates 7000 years of industry and technology which has developed from wooden and stone tools to the emergence of the silicon chip. This micro-stone piece, which in Neolithic times lay inert in the geology of the planet, now enables us to subtly illuminate the monoliths (lighting design by Matthew Haskins), and also to communicate, via the internet, between the 12 participating communities in Europe.
ECOS is dedicated to young people, for artistic exchange, collaboration, ecological concern, and peaceful coexistence. In the future, it aspires to encourage the building of associated unique sites in the 11 other geological locations in Europe over the next 100 years.
SEE: 'Merlin's Minstrel' in Residency Frome Community College 1984, 'Community' 1988/89, 'UK Stone' 1990/92, 'ECOS' 1990/92, 'Tree of Life' 1990/92, and 'Songs of the Stones' 1993/94 in PAST WORK. Also 'Holm Oak Tree of Life' 2004 in RECENT WORK.