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
After months of collecting and creating, I’m now in the final stages of work for Step 2 at Westdown/Asham Quarry – with just a few more tentacles to make. Time is short and tentacles are long but I think I’ll get there! Ideally, I would have liked to have made more work but time has constrained.
Seeds were my starting point. Just as they have blown in to fertilise these ancient deserted rocky environments I envisaged large tumbleweed-like structures rolling around, like old man’s beard seed heads growing there. Thoughts have evolved around life’s energy force, neurons, repeat forms in nature, nature’s persistence, sea creatures (see previous post on Crinoids)…
Rusting machinery and discarded mattress springs left in the quarries, old horseshoes (thanks to Luke Ellis) and other scrap found locally and donated – fossils of the modern era, remnants of past, have provided most of my material to make the work.
Fiona Campbell 1/8/15
Artmusic was formed in 1999 to produce and promote collaborative work between artists working in different disciplines, and to create site-specific and participatory work.
For Step in Stone visual artist Rowena Pearce and I (composer, Helen Ottaway) are working in sculpture, found sound and music to produce ECHO a work reflecting the transformation through quarrying of smooth rock to scree.
At Westdown/Asham and Fairy Cave Quarry we were looking for suitable sites – sloping areas with scree to place Rowena’s ‘stream of boulders’ and open spaces for trumpet performances.
Later, with Fiona, we took a few boulders and the trumpet to Fairy Cave Quarry. The use of the trumpet is inspired by the idea of the ‘blast’ – a word used both for the process of quarrying and for the sound made by a trumpet. But also by the shape of rugose coral fossils commonly found in limestone. At Fairy Cave we came across a piece of half buried masonry very reminiscent of this shape and behind it a sloping area perfect for Rowena’s boulders.
Playing around placing the trumpet on the stones made interesting shadows, reminisent of quarrying machinery – or is that just too fanciful……………
……and looking around for high places to play from, I found that, surprisingly, I could get up to the top of this rock face – a great place for a trumpet blast.
The day we visited fairy Cave was a gorgeous clear blue sunny day. Step in Stone is a fantastic project which we are very happy to be part of and we’re very pleased to be off the starting blocks.
Helen Ottaway, Artmusic 14/06/2015
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
An abundance of stones, this time at Westdown Quarry, means there is always somewhere to put things.
Bronwen Bradshaw, 17.4.2015
‘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.
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.
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.
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…
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