09 Jul Hidden in Stone
Andreas and Naomi Kunert, the founders of Ancient Art of Stone, complete their handmade, one-of-a-kind architectural installations with a process they call “waking up the stone.”
Some of the rocks they place in their projects are linked to an immeasurably distant past on Earth and represent significant geologic events. For the couple, glacial moraines are treasure troves that provide flat saucers especially suited to mosaic walls, while pebbles are better suited to the curvilinear mosaics that decorate doors. In one installation, they paired semi-precious crystals with a 350-million-year-old fossil of a marine creature.
Andreas’s early exploration of the outdoors fostered a passion for mountaineering, rock climbing, and backcountry skiing. He founded a stone quarry in Canada nearly three decades ago, which led to developing their architectural adornment business in 2009. The couple has been inseparable from when they met that same year, and they work together to build each piece in their studio in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.
When working with a client, phases of the project include proposals, a design contract, and hand-selecting each stone so that it fits into their imagined mosaic. It may take a year to finish a commission, which can reach two stories tall and stretch as long as a city block. The stones they use range in size from pebbles to megaliths and include granite, basalt, sandstone, and semi-precious crystals such as amethyst. Works can weigh several tons and feature stones from around the globe. Once completed, the pieces are shipped to their destinations where the Kunerts oversee installations.
Over the years, the Kunerts have created just about everything in stone, from murals, doors, sculptures, and fireplaces, for a range of private and corporate clients. And although the collaboration gives rise to functional artwork that is sold and admired, that is only part of the couple’s aim. Their true calling is to infuse their work with integrity, beauty, healing, and what they interpret as a love and connectedness for all life. “We’re creating this sacred space for each of our clients by using certain stones and crystals that align with their energy to bring harmony, health, and connection,” Naomi says.
Their work is an intensive and personal process that involves an understanding between the artists and potential clients. The Kunerts create from a place of intuition, and Andreas says he counts on Naomi’s ability to listen to their clients and know which stones or crystals would be most appropriate for their commission. “She tunes in to these people,” Andreas says, adding that their process has even sent Naomi to the jungles of Brazil to source certain crystals needed for the task at hand.
Admiration for the couple’s work has spread globally, and their reputation has grown far beyond their studio in British Columbia. A Disney executive said he sought two “jaw-dropping” fireplace features for a vacation home and concluded that his high-artistic expectations “were definitely exceeded.”
“At the end of the process with clients — and after installing the artwork — is a private, personal ceremony for waking up the stone, like in ancient times. We offer that to our clients, bringing their intentions or prayers forward to seal the work, thus awakening their sacred space,” says Naomi. “Hidden within the stone is a secret function and frequency in creation. The spirit of stone brings us strength, stability, and grace in this world while we continue to have this human existence.”
The Kunerts will also incorporate stones or other artifacts that have meaning for clients. While working, they feel guided, and when finished, they feel the human connection could neither be deeper nor more timeless.
“My husband and I know that the creative force working through us is divinely inspired,” says Naomi. “As we work with stone, it is a spiritual journey.”