The Wood Firing

Very Exciting!

The Seed Forms I have made using Whatley Clay have just been fired in my friend Bill Crumbleholme’s Wood Kiln. The whole process took more than 24 hours and I visited as the kiln was coming up to maximum temperature – lots of flames!

The Seed Forms will be shown at Black Swan Arts in October

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Caroline Sharp 18 August 2015

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Seed Forms

I have been making some seed forms reflecting the windblown catkin seeds typical of both birch and hazel – major pioneer species within the disused Mendip Quarries.

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Using a mix of stoneware clay and clay from seams excavated as part of the modern day quarrying process at Whatley Quarry and collected stems I have been sculpting forms which evoke these catkins and their windblown nature.

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Caroline Sharp 24 July 2015

The Lady of the Woods

“I pass forth into light – I find myself beneath a weeping birch – most beautiful of forest trees, the Lady of the Woods.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The common birch – Betula pendula – has always been one of my favourite trees. It is a pioneer tree and 18000 years ago after the last Ice Age, it was this cold tolerant  species that spread across the tundra establishing the earliest forests. Great clouds of fine seeds were blown by the wind and seedlings took hold and colonised the land as the ice retreated.

Birch is the main pioneer species that has established within the disused Mendip Quarries. The inner toughness of Birch is in stark contrast to its delicate twiggy form and its purple twigs contrast with its white bark. The trees have colonised at all levels of the quarry sides – on seemingly impossible tiny ledges where there is the beginnings of soil formation or cracks in the rock where water drains down. They are survivors!

I have started working on my first piece of work for the exhibition at Black Swan Arts in October. It is influenced by this layering of rock/geology and consequent layering of the birch colonising; the visual contrast between purple and white (in winter); the use of birch and hazel (the two pioneers).

Caroline Sharp 30/04/2015

caroline sharp cliffbirch 1caroline sharp birch hanging

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Plant Pioneers

I visited West Down Quarry for the first time a few weeks ago and – I found it quite magical and inspiring especially in terms of exploring initial ideas around its disuse and subsequent colonisation by plants/trees especially birch and buddleia on the shallow soils and cliff faces and hazel along the quarry bottom. All windblown seeds and pioneer species which are creating a unique new habitat – I imagine in summer it is even more special again…………………..

Caroline Sharp 16 March 2015

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caroline sharp cliffbirch 1

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caroline sharp seed forms