Although Mr. Banks has not had any formal training in the arts or construction, he has built a structure that’s remarkably well built and measures perfectly. Banks uses unique, handmade tools to build. Many of the bricks are from the days of slaves . . . he points out which ones and then heads me over to documents from different historical societies to show me proof that this land has indeed harvested relics of history - rare cannonballs from the Civil War, arrowheads from the Cherokee Indians– all of which Banks donated. There are a lot of spots dedicated to Native Americans around the Castle as a way for Mr. Banks to pay tribute to a group of people ―that we didn’t really treat too good.‖ When I ask about the tied bricks (above) he tells me, ―I don’t have a lot of tools. I use my fingers to scrape in between every brick. These are what I use to make things straight and level. The other day I found a tape measure outside and brought it in to check things out. I did a pretty good job keeping things even.‖ Whatever you choose to believe or not believe about what appears on the walls, your religious beliefs, or about Banks’s personal history, there is no denying that stepping into The Castle will open your eyes to one unique vision. What really impressed me was that the ideas are still flowing. In just 4 months since my last visit, there were three new birdbaths being constructed out of found railroad spikes, broken birdbaths, and cement—they are going to be beautiful. Even though unfinished, there was a nice meal of birdseed already added. Cannonballs are in the process of being painted to add to different areas outside the castle. Despite the fact that his carvings have slowed down due to his fear that it will detract from the validity of the faces appearing in the walls, Banks continues to add sculptural details in and on the bricks and décor onto the surfaces. One of my favorites is a table with cement pies in pie pans laid out like they are cooling in the open breeze. Next to it, there is a light bulb in a dish and a work in progress: stones with tiles and beads. This table sits in the open air next to a wall painted with a design that makes me think of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Chess Room collects painted bottles, but it’s hard not to have your gaze drawn by the glass chess pieces on the cement chess table.
32 method press
Published on Apr 13, 2011
The debut issue of Method Press. Method press is an independent art-filled quarterly celebrating low-fi thinkers. If you would like order yo...