Survey to Stake Out Proposed House at Bear Run According to Plans of Frank Lloyd Wright


The archive at Fallingwater is full of the most wonderful treasures. Letters, documents, photographs and plans. Textiles, furniture, ornaments and objects…

Perhaps strange then that one of the things which most caught my eye - and my imagination - was a very ordinary looking little book with a brown cloth cover.

This is know as the Morris Knowles site survey of the site of Fallingwater, made on April 16th 1936. At the time of the survey of course, the site was simply known by the name of the river - Bear Run

The book contains hand-written notes and calculations about the Bear Run River, with details of the size and placement of the boulders and trees; the course and high water marks of the river. It is the most wonderful working field document.

I have to confess though, that for me, almost as exciting as the contents is the book itself. Somehow the blank pages in the book represent everything about the clean-slate scope of the site. It catches the moment before any plans have been drawn, before any ideas have been pinned down - the stage where everything is possible.

I have been re-drawing by hand the very particular grids of the survey book. I love the irregularities which always come with an un-ruled line. These owe something to the beautifully quiet work of Agnes Martin.

I have been playing too with the ideas of grids - taking the line off the page and into thread. The patterns would lend themselves wonderfully to very simple plain weave window-check linens.

Here (above) is a quick exercise done with pins and thread on the cork board in the studio.

And then the wonderful moment when the tension is released…

Eleanor Pritchard