Love for a Word: Why Gneiss?

YOU MIGHT BE THINKING…what on earth is Gneiss, and how do I pronounce it?! The simple answers are: Gneiss is a type of rock, and it’s pronounced ‘nice’ (rhyming with ‘spice’).

Gneiss: There’s a science behind this rock’s striking bands of blue grey and sparkle bone white. There’s also a gentle story intertwined with Gneiss – a story that anchors my perception of home and creativity.

This rock called Gneiss dwells throughout Western Australia and also far away with family in the Outer Hebrides, where my heartstrings often pull. In each place, Gneiss banters with the wind, sun and sea.

Gneiss is sometimes smooth and round after long tumbles with sea and selkies, and sometimes craggy and coarse…wind-pocked and tickled by crabs, gulls and the punkiest of flowers.

This solid and seemingly permanent ancient breadcrumb of the Earth’s whole self has in fact undergone a gigantic transformation over the course of millions of years. As a metamorphic rock, Gneiss has been through a process to become something else, transforming from igneous granite by the power of intense heat and pressure. Over time, Gneiss will change further.

The Gneiss I know of is a place for careful thought and being, an architecture of its own that welcomes me wherever I engage with it. Lovers of the outdoors are easily wooed by a call to climb and dine on its saddles and stripes. There’s an intrinsic warmth about this lovely rock, which could hold a person in thought from dawn to dusk, when the last rays of sunlight dazzle amidst sandwiches of shimmering quartz and mottled granite.

The word ‘Gneiss’ has roots in an old German word for ‘spark’, owing to its glittering mineral flecks. There’s playfulness and inspiration in these sparks, which have been the start of many a good creative project.

Whilst the word ‘Gneiss’ may confound those who have never seen or read it, it beguiles me with its round and silent gee and smooth double ess. It is tricksy but soft, and feels nice to say loudly. This word and I hold a deep and lasting affection. And so, I have unashamedly indulged myself in the attachment of my work to this nourishing word, choosing to start my new venture from a place of pleasure and comfort.

Love for a Word:
Why Gneiss?

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