Photoshoot at Fairy Cave

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

Jack Offord 20150409-124223-I39A7676

Fiona and Tessa Tessa Tessa and Christina Fiona, Martin, Ralph, Phill 20150409-130230-I39A7726 20150409-133117-DSCF3950 Terry, Martin, Tessa Ralph Hoyte Fiona Campbell Tessa setting up work for photoshoot 20150409-135549-I39A7786 20150409-135827-I39A7789 Tessa Farmer Tufa Fairies - Tessa Farmer Jack and Tessa 20150409-141710-I39A7810 20150409-141812-I39A7815 Ralph

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

Age of Crinoids

step in stone has been totally absorbing me – not only in my role as curator and manager of the project, but also as a featured artist.

Having always been interested in the way life forms so often repeat themselves throughout the macro and micro natural world, from tiny microbes to nervous and planetary systems, I was interested to recently discover the term ‘convergent evolution’.  This describes the independent evolution of similar features in different species – structures that have a similar form or function.  The ability, over time, of insects, birds, reptiles and some mammals to fly is one example.  David Attenborough’s “Conquest of the Skies” series illustrates this beautifully.

Rugose Coral sketchRugose Coral fossilErnst Haeckel's illustration of Rugose Coral

Delving into the quarries theme for the project, I’ve learnt that the earlier part of the Carboniferous period (Mississipian) has been coined the Age of Crinoids.  Locally, in the Mendips, the most dominant rock is carboniferous limestone, which is full of fossiled skeletons, particularly crinoids (sea lilies) and corals (e.g. rugose).  Both marine creatures, they are from completely different families, yet have strong similarities, as do diatoms (marine micro-organisms). Over 350 million years ago the Mendips were submerged under a warm, swampy sea, the Mendip Hills hadn’t yet formed into a range of mountains – now substantially eroded back –  and animal life comprised mainly of primitive reptiles, giant insects like dragonflies the size of seagulls, and a myriad of sea creatures such as echinoderms and corals.  Crinoids were abundant in thousands of varieties, showing huge morphological diversity.  These fascinating ancient creatures look like exotic plant forms and many varieties still exist today.  They cling to the bottom of the sea bed by long spiny stems, others are unstalked, have tentacle legs or long arms which enable them to drag themeselves along.

Crinoid and Coral sketchesIMG_9949

It’s a strange concept that old seabeds are often now vertical.  Fossils found in limestone rocks exposed in the quarries brings into question our origin, distant past and future.  Captivated, I have been imagining these other worlds.  My step in stone work is inspired by crinoids and other similar forms as visual metaphors of complex primal systems in nature, universal forms which echo others, and the interconnectedness of all things.

Tumbleweed/neuron/crinoid ideaTentacles

Ideas include tumbleweed-like spheres with branching ‘cirri’ (tentacles, tendrils, hairy filaments..) – examples of fractal geometry.

Each time I visit the quarries I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they represent: the geology; how far back time goes; what extraordinary life forms exist now and in the past; how incredibly tenacious nature is; how we are all linked; how insignificant we are as individuals in the greater scheme, yet how we each impact on everything around us…

Quarry at Stoke St. MichaelScarlett Elf Cup fungi

Last week Nick Weaver and I set up a stand for step in stone at Frome Town Council’s AGM.  Having been funded by them we were asked to present our project to attendees.  It was a full house – the energy in Frome seems infectious!  This Wednesday (8th April) I’ll be taking part as a speaker in a public discussion at Wells Museum about Public Art (7.30pm if you’re interested in coming!).  I will be showing our step in stone film and discussing the project.

Fiona Campbell  7/4/15

Launch of Sculpture Design Competition

Somerset Earth Science Centre - photo by Duncan Simey

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.

Photoshoot by Mark Adler

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.

Left to right: Bron, Cath and Duncan - photo by Duncan Simey Geology slideshow by Juliet - photo by Duncan Simey Slideshow by Fiona illustrating the project's development and design possibilities - photo by Duncan Simey Duncan Elliott with sculptures - photo by Duncan Simey Bronwen Bradshaw talking about her books - photo by Duncan Simey

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.

Scrap steel sculpture, Fiona Campbell - photo by Duncan Simey Mendip rock - photo by Duncan Simey

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.

Designs by Duncan Cameron

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

Artist Research Trip 2

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.

 

Stuart at WestdownFairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries   Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries   Research Trip 2 - Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries    Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries  Fairy Cave, Westdown, Halecombe and Whatley quarries           Cake as reward!

 

Fiona Campbell  27/2/15

Fairy Cave Quarry Friday 27th February

I met up with Fiona today and we both went up – down? – to the Fairy Quarry for a drawing session.

Sketching morning

Sketching morning

What different weather we had from the Artists’ Research trip a month ago. Though pretty cold it was so bright, and the colours were changing across the rocks as the sun came out from behind a cloud (video opportunity?)

Red Rocks panorama

Red Rocks panorama

The Buddleia is going to be quite spectacular come the summer:

Buddleia

Buddleia

Being in the quarry is like being in a cave without the lid.

Stone mountain

Stone mountain

Fiona said it felt like being in Africa..

Africa?

Africa?

Spot Fiona in the landscape

Spot Fiona

Spot Fiona

Bron Bradshaw 27.2.15