step in stone by numbers:
Website/blog views: 16,984 visitors: 4,974 from 68 countries
Facebook Friends: 2475
Twitter followers: 201
Workshop Participants: 257 for workshops (16), 102 for Walks (6), 56 for Talks (4)
Family Day: 190
Age range 0-95
“I have been utterly entranced by what has been achieved by this extraordinary collaborative event. The fourteen artists are from a myriad of artistic disciplines yet have created a glorious spectacle. From the vastness of the quarries to the intimacy of the Black Swan’s Round Tower, the site-specific works harmonise with their environment. Fiona Campbell and her artists have achieved something wonderful.” Amanda Sheridan, Black Swan Arts
“Visitors have been fascinated and intrigued by the installations, which have brought together the arts and sciences. We have been able to reach a new audience by looking at geology from a new angle.” Juliet Lawn, SESC
It’s been a very intense and challenging few months. Incredible seeeing step in stone through to fruition, and so fulfilling. Overall, the project was a tremendous success, very well received by an extremely varied and broadly based audience. We were overwhelmed by such a high volume of enthusiastic visitors from the area and further afield, who visited our 6 venues. Through special events (workshops, walks, talks and performances) we enjoyed engaging a whole spectrum of the public, participants of all ages and interests, including school children, families and the elderly. We received massive public support for the project; people were genuinely delighted and inspired by the fusion of sound, art, landscape and wonderful use of unique quarry settings.
The project gained momentum as it progressed in steps to its finale. The final fortnight, tied in with Somerset Art Weeks Festival, was brilliant! Each weekend approximately 300 people visited the magical Fairy Cave Quarry venue alone. Family Day was really special, a huge success, so many enthusiastic children, grown ups and in-betweenies enjoyed a range of organised activities in the quarry. The 3 Finale venues added fresh impetus, with all 14 artists showing together for the first time in the project at Black Swan Arts.
The Black Swan exhibition was a beautiful, strong, inclusive show in a wonderful gallery space, including the Round Tower and Hall (where the young sculpture design entries were on show). It came together naturally in a grid-like structure, echoing the work. The Preview was buzzing and feedback excellent.
An ambitious project for the budget, with a very small management team, it was incredibly hard work. I really enjoyed working with such a fantastic set of high calibre artists, whose work I admire. All of us explored and developed new areas of our practice. We had immense support from many quarters: in-kind gestures, discounts, time given, technical help, assistance at special events and manning. Partner Nick Weaver helped me enormously throughout and volunteer photographer Duncan Simey was a huge asset. It was highly motivating to have such support. Our legacy includes a documentary film, catalogues, website, and artwork donated to Somerset Earth Science Centre permanently for educational and recreational purposes.
Bringing step in stone to fruition is the fulfilment of a dream to have contemporary art exhibited in these enigmatic, spaces in the Mendips. I have so many people to thank for this, particularly our funders including Arts Council England/National Lottery, partners, venues, supporters, visitors and of course, the artists!
Some visitor comments:
“That was my best HOUR of this year”
“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..”
“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!”
“Wonderful – best art gallery I’ve ever been to”
“We’re really enjoying the step in stone events and seeing places/quarries never been to before!”
“A hit for all ages”
“What a brilliant, inspirational and unique exhibition in a stunning setting”
“Love the work in this setting, quite magical in amongst the trees, and thank you to SESC for a warm welcome”
“Ingenious art in a spectacular setting. Do go! Fairy Cave quarry”
“Amazing creativity & lateral thinking. Our family enjoyed a really interesting ‘exhibition’. A wonderfully different experience.”
“Inspiring and fun – creativity thrived in the kids as a result”
“A wonderfully different experience”
“Like being back in Africa in my village – brilliant! Can’t wait to bring my grandchildren – thankyou!”
“Unique and surprising”
“As a geologist (amateur) married to an artist I found the combination of the 2 subjects absolutely fascinating. Especially loved the sketchbooks, also Catherine’s and Amanda’s work..”
A few best pics to tell the story…
Above: Caroline Sharp, Pioneer Seeds, Stoneware and Whatley Clay, Willow. Photo Duncan Simey
Below: CarolineSharp, Birch Layers, Birch, Split Hazel, Willow. Photo Duncan Simey
step in stone Exhibition at Black Swan Arts. Photo Sally Barnett
Fiona Campbell 23/11/15
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
We had a fun day out in Bristol yesterday speaking publicly about step in stone at the Hub for Bristols’ Big Green Week. Christina, Ralph, Fiona, Nick and Charlotte (our young sculpture design competition winner) took to the platform – a symbolic BGW green chair draped with examples of our work – to explain our forthcoming project to a drop-in audience. Ralph treated us all to a snippet of his new poetic soundwalk – due to be located in the quarries. The Hub is sited in the city centre near the cascade steps, so plenty of people stopped by, some listening throughout, and a few asking questions about the concept. Jack Offord, our film maker came along and took some excellent pics.
Later the same day, we met up with radio presenter Martin Evans (BBC Bristol and Somerset), who interviewed us for a pre-record – due to be broadcast nearer our opening week at the beginning of July.
We had another photoshoot/research session – this time at Asham/Westdown quarry. Artists Suzie Gutteridge, Christina White, Duncan Elliott, Bronwen Bradshaw, Fiona Campbell and Steering Group member Nick Weaver met up with our filmmaker Jack Offord and photographer Duncan Simey to do a recce, film and photograph some of our trial pieces in the quarry setting. Jack Offord is making our documentary film, so has been interviewing some of us.
It was a valuable exercise in working out logistics. My work has been progressing slowly and I brought along part of it – already a heavy, awkward load to carry. In my studio and garden it appears enormous, it filled the back of my truck with bits sticking out beyond the truck tail gate, but once we reached the quarry it seemed to shrink somewhat against the vast backdrop! So I plan to add more to this installation.. if I have the time…
It’s always great meeting up with the rest of the team, especially on site. Ideas and enthusiasm rub off, working relationships and new collaborations are developing and I think a natural resonance between our work is being forged.
Thanks again to Duncan Simey for taking these great images:
For a full range of photoshoot images, check out Duncan Simey’s website:
Fiona Campbell 19/4/15
A few of us met at Fairy Cave on Thursday for a photoshoot, equipment test and H&S walkabout with Martin Grass from Fairy Cave committee. We had a glorious day of sunshine. This had also brought rock climbers, who were already up rock faces in the quarry, when we arrived. One of them – Terry Gifford – happened to have supported us via IdeasTap crowd funding, so it was a lovely surprise to meet him there!
Images below of: Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Fiona Campbell, Ralph Hoyte, Phill Phelps (sound engineer), Jack Offord (filmmaker), Martin Grass and Terry Gifford. Photographs courtesy of Duncan Simey. For more selection visit: www.wild-landscapes.co.uk
We discovered that Fairy Cave is not only an area of SSSI for its renowned caves, but is also designated as SAC (a Europe-wide status) for its rare abundance of greater horseshoe bats – most evident in the winter months. Some caves were newly exposed through quarrying, although one was sadly removed. When standing in parts of Fairy Cave quarry, we are standing in what was a vast ancient cave.
Fiona Campbell 12/4/15
We held a Launch for the Sculpture Design Competition at Somerset Earth Science Centre, Stoke St. Michael on Monday 23 March, to give the public a chance to come along and find out more about the competition and our project as a whole.
It was good to hear artists discuss their ideas and see examples of work for the project so far. Juliet Lawn, from Somerset Earth Science Centre, illustrated the geology of the area, allowing us to see and feel different types of limestone in the Mendips – black rock being most typical of the carboniferous era, when the Mendips were submerged by swampy sea, giant dragonflies and a myriad of sea life forms existed. In between slideshows Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliott, Bronwen Bradshaw and Cath Bloomfield spoke about their different art forms and gave ideas about how to approach design work. The contrast between Duncan’s found rock pieces, Fiona’s mixed media sculptures, Bron’s hand-made books fusing words and print and Cath’s cut-out reliefs gave a strong indication of the range of work that will form step in stone.
We had resource tables with examples of sculptures, designs, rocks, fossils and other imagery to give inspiration. Young visitors were able to talk to individual experts and start designing.
Thanks to those who came, and to all who helped and supported including Nick Weaver, Jack Robson, Duncan Simey, David Chandler, Mark Adler and to Juliet Lawn for hosting on behalf of Somerset Earth Science Centre.
Entries for the under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition are open online from 1 April – 18 May ’15 at: www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015
Fiona Campbell 29/3/15
On 19th February, one of our artists, Stuart Frost, flew over from Norway to do a recce of our Mendip quarry sites in Somerset. We were unlucky with the weather again as it poured with rain all day, but the 3 of us – Nick Weaver, Fiona Campbell and Stuart – managed to visit 4 quarries and our indoor sites – Somerset Earth Science Centre and Black Swan Arts. Joined by step in stone artist Suzie Gutteridge and photographer Duncan Simey in the afternoon, we took a minibus trip into Whatley quarry. This isn’t part of the Trail, but it was incredible to venture into one of the largest quarries in Europe right on our doorstep, accompanied by Juliet Lawn from Somerset Earth Science Centre and donned with hard hats and glasses. Whatley is owned by Hanson UK who also own Westdown, where we will be installing some work for our event this summer.
Thanks to Duncan Simey for taking some great photos of the day.
Fiona Campbell 27/2/15
An Artist Research Trip on a cold, wet day in January gave those involved an opportunity to get together on site, explore various starting points and develop ideas and artwork for the project.
“It was very inspiring despite the weather and I got home buzzing!” says artist Suzie Gutteridge.
The 3 quarries have very different characteristics – Westdown/Asham is disused, massive and dramatic, with a long pathway and stream, neighbouring Asham Woods SSSI. It was used as a backdrop for filming Dr Who. Halecombe is a working quarry with a peripheral circular public pathway overlooking the site, while Fairy Cave Quarry is mysterious with stunning limestone rock formations and renowned caves.
“I found the quarry landscapes really fascinating, alien, exciting …” artist Ralph Hoyte.
Fiona Campbell 9/2/15