Richard Richardson, Three Sisters Sanctuary

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Site is closed to public except by appointment.

About the Artist/Site

Richard Richardson runs an antique stove shop in the hills of western Massachusetts. The barn-like building is covered with signs, old tools, wagon wheels, bicycle frames, trivets, bells, and birdhouses. In front of the shop, a two-story tin man sports a jaunty tin Stetson. Behind, Richardson has spent nearly twenty years creating a sprawling art environment he calls the Three Sisters Sanctuary, in honor of his three daughters. Consisting of roughly a dozen outdoor “rooms,” the Sanctuary is designed in part as a place for people to gather. It combines perennial plantings, butterfly gardens, tall grasses, and arbor vitae with pebble, brick, and stone paths; salvage and sculpture; and borders of large standing stones. 

Richardson incorporates people into every aspect of the site. Over a dozen individuals have contributed to it, including patients at a local veterans’ hospital. He and his daughters host parties there several times a year.

The Sanctuary’s dramatic centerpiece is an immense dragon, its sinuous body built from hundreds of flat stones piled seven feet high. The dragon’s head is strategically placed over an outdoor hearth so it can “breathe fire.” Triangles of stone and glass march down the dragon’s spine, while the curve of its body forms an intimate room – the “Dragon’s Den” – where people can gather. Richardson has filled the crevices between stones with candlesticks, driftwood, glass globes, colored glass fragments, and figurines. 

Other rooms include the “Fire Pit,” the “Water Garden,” and the “Bicycle Garden.” Richardson’s “Amphitheater” features a wide grassy circle surrounded by tall vertical stones; it is set, like a sunken living room, below a perimeter of flat stone, and is embedded with mandalas of brick and colored glass. From here, the eye is drawn up a slight incline to the “Drum Circle” and, behind it, the Dragon’s body.

Richardson’s latest creation, “The Dance of Life,” is a labyrinth, with paths bordered by huge standing stones and tall grasses. Although he speaks at times of winding down, as of spring 2011, he continues to work on the site.

~Mark Karpel


SPACES Archive Holdings

Digital images, correspondence

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Goshen, Massachusetts, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 42.479242 / -72.809995

Visiting Information

Site is closed to public except by appointment.


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