Sanctuary Entwined is a 2017 site-responsive installation at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. The sculpture includes 240,000 running feet of hemp twine wrapped around three steel armatures. Two of the cubic forms can be entered through doorways designed by Ross, inviting the viewer to experience the closeness of nature and the interior solitude of the cubes.


“Sanctuary Entwined is a culmination of concepts and methodologies that have been cornerstones in my work and in my development. I’ve utilized the cubic form in stoneware and have pondered the invisible interiors encased within the cubes. Often, my sculptures are wrapped with twine of various types and in different ways. In this process, I have observed the tensile, linear, and graphic characteristics of thread – taut and parallel, slack and relaxed, bundled, knotted, and tangled – and the lines that evoke the act of drawing, another aspect of my practice. As my concept for this project came into focus, Jack Lenor Larsen, the founder of LongHouse Reserve, inquired if it would be possible for visitors to get inside the work. This provided a distinct and provocative challenge.

The concept of sanctuary has been at the forefront of my mind during recent politically charged times. I find myself thinking about what it means to be safe, what it means to be home, and how to protect ourselves and others while attempting to find serenity within chaos. These thoughts are a part of the driving spirit behind this work.

In the LongHouse Garden, the cubes of Sanctuary Entwined intersect three stately trees, each magnificent in their own unique way. Architectural steel structures, designed for comfortable passage of the trunk and limbs, allow the trees to extend through the tops and sides, as if they grew in place. Inside the structure, the viewer is enveloped by diffuse walls of twine that embrace the interior like a cocoon. At the same time, they are face to face with the grandeur of these towering botanical specimens. I hope the viewer will find an intimate relationship to the natural world within this tranquil environment.

In the process of wrapping and weaving the twine, surprising patterns emerge. As hundreds of lines of fiber cohere into a gauzy façade, moiré patterns appear undulating across the surface like waves. Knots and crisscrossing hemp create optical conundrums that repeat across the face echoing aspects of my stoneware sculpture. In spite of the ephemeral nature of the “walls,” a sense of peacefulness and safety resides inside them, like a bird’s nest.”

Toni Ross, 2017