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 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
Our opening week of Step 1: installing artwork, signage, running school workshops, guided walk, making a sculpture in a day, press launch and official opening at Somerset Earth Science Centre has been a whirlwind of activity!
4 of us spent 2 days setting up artwork inside and around the grounds of SESC. My artwork for ‘step in stone‘ includes both new work inspired by features of the quarries (for Steps 2 & 3) and pre-existing work (for Step 1) that reflect how the quarries resonate with my interest in life forms. The installation of my floating pieces involved adventures in a boat. 2 helpers were enlisted from Moons Hill quarry (both called Paul) to assist with this. Slightly perturbed by the strangeness of it all to start with, they were soon singing rowing songs – delighted by the novelty once they relaxed into their new roles and we floated the first ‘Diatom’ in the water. My other installations meant climbing up tall ladders, and wrapping ‘Lichen’ round a tree with helper Nigel. Duncan Elliott dragged his heavy stone pieces up the road on a trolley, and built huge scaffolding frames to hoist up his ‘Age of Stone’ – a back-aching job, but worth the effort – it is magnificent! Tessa Farmer arrived on a train from London laden with her intriguing boxes of insects, miniature evil fairies, worm casts and bell jar – the intricate work taking her hours to install – and Christina White set up her beautiful multi-exposure photographs in the Centre against limestone walls.
Some of this process was documented by Duncan Simey (see ‘wild-landscapes’ photos below) and filmmaker Jack Offord, for our final documentary film.
We opened on Wednesday 8th July, and have already had a wide range of visitors of all ages engaging with our work, including 2 school groups through Somerset Art Works’ inspirED programme and some guided walkers through our collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust. My half day workshop was with Yr 7 pupil premium students from Selwood School. In small groups they created group wire pieces based on silver birch seeds. Suzie’s workshop the next day with Castle School students resulted in felted balls using locally sourced wool. Both sets of work will be exhibited as part of the Trail at Halecombe Quarry from Step 2 onwards.
Our first week culminated yesterday in the making of Charlotte McKeown’s sculpture with her in just one day. This was her award for winning for our ‘Under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition’. A bit like scrapheap challenge, a small, dedicated team worked hard to create the sculpture in a day. Despite having prepared materials and got some parts together for it, the challenge was still a little daunting. Our team included Charlotte, Lucja Korczak, who won the under 13 year-old design competition prize, her mum Aga, Duncan Cameron (step in stone artist and Strode College tutor to Charlotte), Nick Weaver (step in stone Partner) and me. Perhaps the best thing about yesterday was how everyone worked together so well to make it happen and with such aplomb! A slight rush to finish before the arrival of press and guests for our official opening at 5pm, the sculpture was installed by the Centre entrance. Sarah Jackson from Mendip Hills AONB kindly did the honours to ‘open’ the event, and we all celebrated the start of an exciting few months ahead!
Thanks to Gill Odolphie and Juliet Lawn at SESC for putting up with us all week and supporting us throughout!
Do please come and visit Somerset Earth Science Centre (SESC) – open to public Weds 9am-4pm & special events
Artists exhibiting at SESC: Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Charlotte McKeown – young sculpture design competition winner
Fiona Campbell 12/7/15
Getting stuck in to two large pieces for the fist installation of step in stone at the Somerset Earth Science Centre at Moon’s Hill Quarry at the end of the month.
The first of which is a piece I call “The Age of Stone” after Rodin’s “The Age of Bronze”.
I don’t see what I do as being contemporary art. It’s conception is far to connected to the hunter-gatherer experience, seeing movement in stone and seeking to animate, and too closely involved in re-imagining classical sculpture to want to be tied down to post Duchamp perspectives.
However there are times when the contemporary perspective really ties in to the conversation I am having through my practice. With “The Age of Stone” I am really wanting to highlight geological timescale and the extraordinary perspective that the understanding of deep time has on our experience of the world. I find that in an era of fundamentalism I am using the fundament to talk about my fundamentals. The fundamental in this case being that if we look and really examine the world around us it reveals to us it’s history in an intricate and entirely cohesive way. We can see that these limestone rocks that we walk on every day were formed from the bodies of sea creatures. Because the Calcium in bones and shells is in fact a metal, we can examine the magnetic signatures created as the rocks were formed that reveal their location at that time within the earth’s magnetic field, we can date their formation from the organic chemistry within the life that became rock. We find that we can build up a picture from the bedrock, from the fundament that dwarfs the biblical story in every respect. Every rock. every stone on the planet is interconnected in this same story, of a planet that created this life from itself.
What a great opportunity step of stone has given me to exhibit “The Age of Stone” in the context of Moon’s Hill Quarry and the Somerset Earth Science Centre.
Duncan Elliott 1/6/15
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
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