From Quarry to Canyon

Step in stone seems to have infected me with a need to draw rocks. I went to the American South West on a road trip last year which I’ve documented thoroughly both in my blog and a fairly random sketchbook – drawing out of a moving car window, for instance. But at the Grand Canyon, once I had got over the shock of the place (actually I don’t think one ever does), I sat down for an hour or two and attempted to make sense of what I was looking at. Here’s the sketch, which is A4 size.

GC drawing 2

A4 just didn’t do it for the Grand Canyon so I enlarged it to A1 on the computer, and this is the etching that came from it.

Grand Canyon patchwork 1 for blog

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Installation and Private View – Salisbury Arts Centre

The final hang last week at Salisbury Arts Centre took just 3 days, which was quite a feat!  Curated by Amanda Wallwork and me, and set up with the help of many other step in stone artists and a team at Salisbury Arts Centre, including Visual Arts Manager Louise.    As part of the installation , Tessa Farmer has re-created a miniature environment in the entrance display case of her skeletal fairies and other creatures interacting and emerging from fossils, some on loan from Somerset Earth Science Centre.  Ralph Hoyte has also re-created his GPS-triggered soundscape ‘ANTICLINE’ to listen to via smartphones around the grounds of the centre.  This can be downloaded via this link.   The artwork includes a selection of indoor and outdoor pieces from our 6 venues last year.
We had our Private Vew on Friday evening (19th Aug).  It was lovely to have so many of the artists together again, many who haven’t seen each other since last year’s project.  Numerous visitors came, expressing their interest and enthusiasm for the subject, our work and the exhibition as a whole.  “An intriguing multi-media, sophisticated exhibition!” We are pleased with the information/artist panels, which really help to tell the story.
Below are some images from our installation and Private View.  Do come and visit the exhibition (runs ’til 24 Sept)!
Fiona Campbell  22/8/16

step in stone – Salisbury Art Centre 18 Aug – 24 Sept

We are gearing up to our exhibition at Salisbury Art Centre starting next week.  It runs Thursday 18th August-Saturday 24th September, open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10am-3pm. Our Private View is on Friday 19th August 6-8pm – please come along if you are in the area!

As part of the exhibition, there will be a located GPS-triggered poetic audio-walk ‘ANTICLINE’ by Ralph Hoyte around the grounds of Salisbury Arts Centre.  To access it, visit this link, and download onto your personal smartphone.

 

step in stone launch coming soon!
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Exhibitions


Box Office: 01722 321744
www.salisburyartscentre.co.uk

Image: Suzie Gutteridge

Launch: Friday 19 August, 6 – 8pm

Exhibition runs: Thursday 18 August – Saturday 24 September


This exhibition tells the story of a unique event held last summer in the South West.  Fourteen artists, all with connections to South West England (including two from Wiltshire) but from as far afield as Norway and Australia, created a collaborative and multidisciplinary series of site-specific artworks that fused art and the natural landscape in response to the nature of quarries and their place in the environmental, cultural and industrial heritage of the region.

The pieces were installed in six venues (three disused and working quarries and three related indoor exhibitions), and staged in three “steps”, the quarries’ natural history, ecology and geology inspired works in surprising forms. Aiming to link culture and the environment, the extraordinary artscapes gave over 8000 visitors a free opportunity to encounter contemporary artworks while exploring the spectacular, wild landscapes of abandoned and working quarries in rural East Mendip.

‘step in stone’ really engaged audiences, encouraging them to consider the environment around them, our place in it, how it evolves, the benefit we get from it, our impacts upon it and how nature responds and reasserts itself. It engaged a whole spectrum of the public, including school children, families and the elderly, many who had never visited these interesting spaces.

Exhibiting artists include Artmusic, Catherine Bloomfield, Bronwen Bradshaw, Duncan Cameron, Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Stuart Frost, Suzie Gutteridge, Ralph Hoyte, Sally Kidall, Caroline Sharp, Amanda Wallwork and Christina White

We’d love you to join us for the launch event on Friday 19 August from 6 – 8pm

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step in stone tours to Salisbury Art Centre

Great news – we will be exhibiting a selection of step in stone artwork by all 14 artists this summer at Salisbury Art Centre, Wiltshire:

The exhibition runs from 18 August – 24 September.  Private View Friday 19th August, 6-8pm.

This exhibition tells the story of a unique event held in the summer/autumn of 2015. Fourteen artists, all with connections to South West England including two from Wiltshire and from as far afield as Norway and Australia, created a series of site-specific artworks in response to the nature of quarries and their place in the environmental, cultural and industrial heritage of the region. 

Exhibiting artists: Artmusic, Catherine Bloomfield, Bronwen Bradshaw, Duncan Cameron, Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliot, Tessa Farmer, Stuart Frost, Suzie Gutteridge, Ralph Hoyte, Sally Kidall, Caroline Sharp, Amanda Wallwork, Christina White.

If you missed some of our venues last year, now’s your chance to visit us in Wiltshire!

Review for Alpine Journal 2016 by Terry Gifford

Terry Gifford, one of our crowd funding donors, has written an article featuring step in stone for the Alpine Journal, a hardback publication.   Terry is the unofficial gardener of climbs at Fairy Cave Quarry, a judge for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2016 and was Director of the annual International Festival of Mountaineering Literature for 21 years.  Former Chair of the Mountain Heritage Trust, he is the author of The Joy of Climbing (2004) and is in his 52nd year of rock-climbing.  Terry helped Cath attach some of her Gabions high up on a sheer rock face at Fairy Cave, and was a great support throughout the project.

The Alpine Journal won’t be published for several months and a hard copy will be hard to get, so Terry has given us permission to publish his article in advance.

‘step in stone’ exhibition, Fairy Cave Quarry, Somerset, October 2015

(Review offered for publication in the Alpine Journal 2016)

Mountaineers on the Alpine Ridge (PD) under full winter conditions, catching the last of the winter afternoon’s sun, photographed in close-up, can look very impressive on social media. But this is Fairy Cave Quarry’s easiest route to the quarry rim, all one hundred meters of it. When I moved to the Mendip Hills of Somerset four years ago, Stephen Venables was summing up the local climbing for me, adding, ‘and there are some over-rated grotty quarries’. A month after I moved into Stoke St Michael, unaware of this particular locked quarry (BMC website for access details) just a lane away from my house, it announced itself in the guise of a Climbers’ Club guidebook all of its own. It has since become the best-selling CC guidebook ever. What began as a bit of a joke – a sop to activists down in the lonely Southwest – from the CC guidebook committee has become a runaway success going through reprint after reprint.

So what is the secret to Fairy Cave Quarry’s popularity that draws climbers not just from Bristol and South Wales, but from all along the M4, from the south coast, and even tempts Iain Peters out of Devon? Most of its climbing is north-facing and it has a reputation for limestone looseness and vegetation. But it has the nearest slabs to London. And there’s not a bolt or peg in sight. The clean line of the classic Rob’s Crack (4c), benign beginners’ routes on the west-facing Balch’s Slide (4a) area, and the thin steeper challenge of Withy Crack (5a), plus plenty of tricky overlapping slabs at higher grades, attract climbers on most dry days of the year. But actually this is a cavers’ quarry, owned by a caver, the locked carpark reserved for cavers and its management committee dominated by cavers whose base is the cavers’ hut at the top of the lane. Apparently the many locked cave entrances in the quarry give access to some of the best decorated caves in the Mendips, where many cavers are also climbers. Withy Crack’s first ascent is credited to Cerberus Speleological Society in 1992. Given that it is also an SSSI (great crested newts; at least two species of orchids; ravens reared three young last year; Western Red Cedar has just been discovered there) climbers need to be aware that Fairy Cave Quarry is a place that we share, like so many of our crags, with other interests.

But what about three gabions of orange plastic hanging from the diagonal crack of Halfway to Kansas? Or the quarry floor littered with strange white tents on wheels in which green shoots grew from teapots? Or a disembodied voice speaking from somewhere up in the West End? Then over 1200 people finding all sorts of other oddities around the quarry during the two weeks (three weekends) when it was open to the public? Actually climbers seemed to have enjoyed sharing the quarry with the ‘step in stone’ sculpture exhibition for two weeks in October 2015 and may not have realised that they became exhibits themselves in the time-lapse, attention-provoking, photographs of Christina White displayed at the Earth Science Centre down the road. Indeed, climbers were responsible for hanging those gabions at the request of the artist, Catherine Bloomfield, so that their impact (unintended by the artist, apparently) as people entered the quarry was like a parody of three ducks on a wall. Actually, more subtle than that, they were the highest of a line of orange gabions that had colonised the quarry and clearly wanted to join in the climbing.

Poet Ralph Hoyte’s voice works were both an echo of the human construction of the quarry and an eerie post-industrial mysterious communication of echoing absence. Sally Kidall’s white tents on stick and sisal platforms looked like some post-industrial survivors’ attempts at nomadic domesticity that were now abandoned and being reclaimed by nature. From the climbers’ perspective on the quarry rim this seemed to be a community that had run its wheels into a dead-end before it simply gave up. Duncan Cameron developed a picture of the quarry site through evening, day and overnight ‘expeditions’, collecting fascinating found materials (including a wrist watch – but no old pegs!) that he finally mounted in his ‘Fairy Cave Cabinet’ on the dramatic cliff-edge start of the Alpine Ridge. For those climbers who walked around into the West End with their eyes open, a dome set into the ground will have revealed another miniature world of insects, ants and a dead bird. Tessa Farmer’s fairy world was a predatory one that certainly suggested ‘Alice’s unsettling journey down the rabbit hole into Wonderland’ as she puts in the excellent catalogue representing all fourteen artists who took part in the larger project involving six venues with workshops, walks, talks and performances that attracted 8114 visitors in total. Amazingly, the curator of all this, Fiona Campbell, found time to make work for at least three sites where ancient sea creatures that might have inhabited what is now limestone. Here, her ‘Eviscerated Earth’ combined rusty steel bits with wax, cloth, paper and wire to evoke, ironically, the strange formations lost in the destruction of caves by quarrying. Actually, what remains was not only the inspiration for the artists, but also for the audience: the natural folds and features of Fairy Cave Quarry itself, especially in the Death Wish Area, attracted a lot of public attention, which should remind us of how lucky we are to have access negotiated by BMC volunteer Ian Butterworth.

So could there be limits to sharing climbing rock with other artists? (Like bullfighting in Spanish culture, rock-climbing, we know, is an art form.) Only one climb was made more difficult for only two weeks here. And from the quarry rim climbers still get the benefit of various imitations of the famous Salt Lake land art ‘Spiral Jetty’. But on some gritstone boulders in West Yorkshire and Lancashire six poems by Simon Armitage have been carved into the rock to comprise the Stanza Stones Trail of 47 miles. Each poem is about a form of precipitation: ‘Rain’, ‘Snow’, ‘Mist’, etc. These are semi-permanent, although expected by the poet to be mossed over, erased by their subjects and climbed over. Unlike bird-bans, they don’t require art-bans. But they have, with a kind of hubris, humanised the natural rock we come to climb. Is it our rock? Of course not, and climbing is still possible. Indeed, you might feel enriched by being reminded of climbing ‘up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world’ in ‘Rain’, for example. For years we’ve shared the crags with ravens and ring ouzels, and now we must share them with conservationists and curators.

My three nuts from which the gabions hung stayed untouched by other climbers for two weeks. When I mistakenly removed them, thinking the exhibition was finished, other climbers replaced them with stones so the final weekend show could go on. But at another, open, quarry, a weekend rave of six hundred people destroyed one artist’s work. There are other people we should resist sharing the crags with – the ‘green trail’ 4×4 drivers, the destructive trail bike riders, the access improvers, the commercial bolters, the selfish route-hogging groups. Beside these, a few though-provoking, amusing or distinctly odd fellow artists are life-enhancing presences for which we should be grateful, as many climbers obviously were at Fairy Cave Quarry in 2015.

Terry Gifford

 

Goodbye Fairy Cave Quarry

Spent a day in the Fairy Cave Quarry last Friday, looking after the show, and was rewarded with fantastic light shows. Here are some photos to whet your appetite – last chance to see this treasure of a place this weekend.

Rowena's rocks - spot the difference?

Rowena’s rocks – spot the difference?

Amanda's colour chart - don't miss it as you come in

Amanda’s colour chart – don’t miss it as you come in

Sun coming through

Sun coming through

Who painted this picture?

Who painted this picture?

What's this doing here?

What’s this doing here?

Sally's fairy tents

A Fairy Campsite?

 What a day it's been!


What a day it’s been!

This has been part of my life for most of this year – Goodbye, Fairy Cave QuarryFCQ6 9.10

Bron Bradshaw  16/10/15

Final weekend coming up!

Drawing to a close this weekend, we have been staggered by the large number of people coming to our 6 venues, taking part in our events and wonderful feedback from visitors of all ages, local to international.  Last weekend over 300 people visited the magical Fairy Cave Quarry venue!   Family Day was a fantastic success – really special, so many enthusiastic children, grown ups and in-betweenies enjoying the ambiance and art at Fairy Cave.  Activities included Scavenger Hunt, Rubbings, Interpretation sheets, Clay pressings, Game of Stones and Photograms with Christina White.  Cavers, climbers, artists, walkers, people from Bristol, Taunton, London, France, Uganda and Spain have visited.  For Artmusic’s Blast performances a live trumpeter ambled among the visitors, echoing around the quarry.

Thanks to Duncan Simey, Sally Barnett , Crysse Morrison, Duncan Cameron, Sally Kidall, Emma Warren  and Chris Lee for some of the photographs:

Stode students looking at Fiona Campbell's 'Eviscerated Earth'Eviscerated Earth - Fiona CampbellChris Lee's pic DSC_2437 Finale Preview eve at BSA, step in stone Sarah - cleaner _DSC1954 _DSC1984 _DSC1996 _DSC2002 IMG_0943 IMG_0966 IMG_0976 IMG_0979 IMG_0980IMG_0765 IMG_0988Sally Kidall's work at Fairy Cave QuarryArtmusic at Fairy Cave QuarrySuzie Gutteridge at Fairy Cave Quarry Christina White at Fairy Cave Quarry Sally Kidall's work at Fairy Cave QuarryFiona Campbell's work at Fairy Cave Quarry Bronwen Bradshaw's work at Fairy Cave QuarryCatherine Bloomfield at Fairy Cave Quarry

It’s been a hectic time for all involved, but we all feel hugely encouraged by the positive responses.

Comments from visitors include:

In many years of visiting art events, I have never experienced anything as fascinating and inspiring as my visits to quarries today – especially this one.” (Fairy Cave Quarry)

“Had a lovely day with the boys exploring, was great to combine being outdoors with some interesting art..”

“Inspiring and fun – creativity thrived in the kids as a result”

“A wonderfully different experience”

“Wonderful – best art gallery I’ve ever been to”

“Unique and surprising”

“Spent a fascinating afternoon at Halecombe and Westdown/Asham quarries. It was a treat for the senses and a revelation about the environments on our doorstep. Thank you!”

step in stone’s final set of workshops have begun: Wirework with me, Wet Felting with Suzie Gutteridge, both at Black Swan Arts, Clay and Plaster Relief Tiles with Duncan Cameron at Somerset Earth Science Centre. Several schools are taking part again – All Hallows Prep School did Perambulatory Poetry at Fairy Cave Quarry with Ralph Hoyte, who also led an awesome night walk yesterday, and Robert Blake students made pinhole cameras with Christina White today. Tessa Farmer is giving insights into her work through Talks in the next couple of days.

“I love the way the fourteen different artists have all been inspired to respond to various aspects of quarries in so many different and interesting ways.” Nick Weaver – partner in the project.

This weekend (17-18 October) gives the public a last chance to explore the magical Fairy Cave quarry, normally gated, so don’t miss it!

 

Fiona Campbell  14/10/15

 

SALLY KIDALL’S _Fairy Cave Installation

Terra Firma 1.sm“Terra Firma: there’s no place like home”
Sally Kidall 2015

Materials: transparent nylon fabric (organza), bamboo, hazel & silver birch, furniture & household items, fabric, soil, wheat & runner bean seeds & nuts, casting soap, string, sand, rocks.

Terra Firma 9.sm21 varying sized transparent fabric tents are supported on raft type structures and are arranged in part concentric circles. Some rafts are mounted on wheels to appear like trailers while the others sit grounded to their site. Each tent contains various growing manufactured items supporting their own narratives, from grass growing clothes on hangers, to growing table and chair settings, to sawdust coated teapots and leaf coated glasses, coffee pot and cups. The smaller tents contain soap castings of toy cars, wheels, incandescent light bulbs and electric plugs etc, while bamboo ladders support sprouting runner bean plants

Terra Firma far view“Being part of ‘step in stone’ has given me an ideal platform to explore, through making site-specific works, my fascination for contemporary commemorative memorials. These Mendip quarries in themselves commemorate the regions valuable contribution to the industrialisation of Britain. I aim to stimulate conversations and awareness about the values and impacts of quarrying and the future security of the Mendips and its communities.”

Terra Firma big tent3.sm  Terra Firma coffee pot trolly.sm  Terra Firma dress.smTerra Firma ladders5  Terra Firma bulbs2  Terra Firma ink bottles2Terra Firma Coffee new.sm  Terra Firma big tent new 2.sm  Terra Firma glasses newTerra Firma big tent2.sm  Terra Firma ink bottles  Terra Firma big tent.smTerra Firma tools.sm  Terra Firma dress2  Terra Firma glassesTerra Firma bulbsx3.sm    Terra Firma plugs.smTerra Firma teapot.sm    Terra Firm Coffe new2.sm

WEBSITES:
sallykidall.wordpress.com
http://www.axisweb.org/p/sallykidall/

Strode College Students visit Fairy Cave Quarry

A terrific day visiting Fairy Cave Quarry with a group of Strode College Foundation and Extended Diploma Art students. It was great to talk about site specific artwork, location and environment – out in the open, in the wind and the rain, experiencing contemporary art practice beyond the walls of a gallery. We then discussed the work in the Black Swan, had a cup of tea and headed back to the college in the minibus with lots of notes in sketchbooks and things to talk about.

e Quarry Trip #3 e Quarry Trip #4 e Quarry Trip #5 e Quarry Trip #6 e Quarry Trip #2 e Quarry Trip #10 e Quarry Trip #9 e Quarry Trip #8 e Quarry Trip #7 e Quarry Trip #11 e Quarry Trip #12 e Quarry Trip #13 Quarry Trip #1

Duncan Cameron   7/10/15