Working on the arrangement of my finds, the treasures retrieved from small expeditions now finding their spaces within frames and boxes ready for installation within the week.
Duncan Cameron 16/9/15
Great to meet up with several of the artists in the Frome Museum last week and for us all to consider how our various creations will work amongst the collections and display cases. Back welding in my studio this weekend assembling the Fairy Cave cabinet and organising the contents in readiness for glazing and installation in the quarry in a week.
Duncan Cameron 13/9/15
I’ve been intrigued by molehills for many years. As a student in Oxford I lived next to the University Parks, home to abundant moles and their earthy mounds. I constructed a motorised mole hill (on top of a remote controlled car) and controlled it from afar, startling unsuspecting passers by.
I always notice molehills now and ponder the unseen, underground activity they hint at. Moles are rather fascinating animals. According to wikipedia: “A mole’s diet primarily consists of earthworms and other small invertebrates found in the soil, and a variety of nuts. The mole runs are in reality ‘worm traps’, the mole sensing when a worm falls into the tunnel and quickly running along to kill and eat it. Because their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze earthworms, moles are able to store their still-living prey for later consumption. They construct special underground “larders” for just this purpose; researchers have discovered such larders with over a thousand earthworms in them. Before eating earthworms, moles pull them between their squeezed paws to force the collected earth and dirt out of the worm’s gut.” I’ve taxidermied a few moles over the years and used them in pieces to be preyed upon by the fairies but haven’t incorporated a mole hill until now. At Halecombe quarry along the conservation area which surrounds and overlooks the working quarry moles are plentiful. The neat mounds of fine soil excavated by the moles’ incredibly strong forearms and paddle like feet echo the huge industrial scale digging and excavation below.
For Step in Stone I am imagining underground colonisation by the fairies. At Halecombe this is hinted at by a single erupted molehill that reveals fairy architecture and moles enslaved by the fairies to expand and extend their usurped domain for their own purposes. At Fairy Cave their lair will exist deeper underground, amongst extinct fossilised sea creatures but also incorporating specimens of thriving extant wildlife. Amongst other materials I’m using a serpulid (wormshell) colony, wasp nest segments, mouse bones, insects and bats.
Tessa Farmer 7/9/15
When you drive through Stoke St Michael on the Mendips, you can sense that stone is part of its story. The grey stone houses, small, mostly, workers’ homes, the huge quarry lorries that you can encounter round any tight corner. Before you get there, on the the road from the A361, you pass several working quarries, and then the basalt quarry: Moon’s Hill Quarry, with the deepest, finest basalt around.
The Fairy Cave Quarry is on the other side of the village, hidden down a narrow leafy lane. It’s small (relatively, when you see the size of Whatley), not too overgrown, and closed to the public. So all the more exciting that it will be open to all during SAW, October 3 – 18th. I went there yesterday for a photoshoot with my still unfinished piece “Here Be Fairies”. This…
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There are two geocaches located in step in stone venues, see http://www.geocaching.com for more information. Look for SEED or PAVIMENTUM. Alternatively, these are the geocache coordinates:
PAVIMENTUM (Westdown): N 51° 12.273 W 002° 25.178
SEED (Halecombe): N 51° 13.368 W 002° 26.011
Nick Weaver 6/9/15
Spent the evening exploring the Fairy Cave perimeter and collecting feathers and old metal washers. The quarry echoing with the sharp clinks of climbers enjoying the last evening sun on the cliff face and the ever-present crow calls. I had intended to cast more tracks however the recent heavy rain meant that the the little mud was underwater with large puddles covering large areas of the quarry floor.
Duncan Cameron 1/9/15
UPDATE before the Bank Holiday (!)
ANTICLINE: GPS-triggered soundscape for Westdown Quarry (now running). This work can be downloaded free from my website (all instructions for downloading and use are HERE!)
SYNCLINE: array of 6 autonomous megaphones beaming audio content into The Amphitheatre at Fairy Cave Quarry (work-in-progress)
PERICLINE: sonic audio-art gallery piece for the Black Swan, Frome: this is the third piece in the triptych of audioworks for Step in Stone; it’s now in its final stages:
Very many thanks to great guy Charles Clapham, Workshop Supervisor for the School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University. I rang him up out of the blue with my strange artistic request to create rock core samples out of the Fairy Cave Quarry rock so I could animate them and he said, “bring’em in!” “When?”, I asked. “Now,” he said. Two weeks later he rang me up – he’d made two 25mm cores out of the rock. Thanks to Bristol Uni!
[Ralph Hoyte working with Phill Phelps]
It’s been an incredible fortnight, unleashing inner reserves of energy I didn’t know I had, and thank goodness for the unyielding patience and support of partner Nick Weaver, helping to pull off the installation of Step 2 while finishing off artwork, getting signage done for 2 venues and co-ordinating it all… Halecombe and Westdown quarries are now open daily for all to visit – see Duncan Simey’s wonderful selection of pics from a very rainy Friday. Jack Offord filmed us for the documentary – looking forward to seeing the results of that on our Preview evening of 2nd October at Black Swan.
Below is a selection from our Step 2 installation days and a couple of photoshoots by Duncan Simey taken since.
And some of our finished work:
My main pieces are the ones with long colourful tentacles, based on crinoids (see earlier post about the making process)! Sadly a heavy steel spring (a small component of my work) went missing and other parts tampered with at Westdown the first weekend – if anybody spots this lurking in the bushes there, do contact me, it might be from my work!
The past week has been filled with our workshops, guided walks and talks, held at SESC, Westdown and Halecombe Quarries. The guided walks, in collaboration with Rosie and Pippa from Somerset Wildlife Trust, have been really well attended, and workshop participants of all ages have explored a range of creative approaches related to artists’ work and the project. Thanks to our wonderfully inspiring workshop leaders (Bron, Tanya, Christina, Suzie), all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience! Sally’s talk was much appreciated and I did a talk for 27 Active Living members, who were enthralled.
Last week culminated in a very inspirational performance at Westdown/Asham: Artmusic’s ‘ECHO’ sculpture and sound installation on Saturday 22nd Aug was animated by live performances of Artmusic’s ‘BLAST’ – a theatrical response to the rock and mechanics of quarrying, with specially composed trumpet music being played from locations which echoed around the quarry. We had a great turn out and the audience seemed to really enjoy the unique show and setting. “A delightful melange of live and recorded fluttering trumpets grab our attention this way and that while butterflies flit among the stones…. As they move slowly up the valley from stone to stone, always edging closer to melody, we begin to follow, or not, or meander above and below. ..” Caroline Radcliffe
People brought picnics, dogs, cameras, sketchbooks and the sun was scorching all day!
Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.
Hope you can visit soon!
Fiona Campbell 24/8/15