The Age of Stone

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”.

Auguste_Rodin-The_Age_of_Bronze-Victoria_and_Albert_Museum-2 (2)

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

Halecombe Quarry

Halecombe Quarry

Halecombe quarry is a fully working quarry, its first load way back in 1854.  Currently operated by La Farge Tarmac, owned by Hobbs, the quarry has expanded dramatically and has excavated down several benches below the water table, with strict regimes of pumping and water disposal. Standing above on the peripheral public pathway, the views down into the quarry and across the fields beyond are extraordinary. You get a sense of man’s industry at work from afar – a bird’s eye view into dinky land, man’s toil and rubble, spewing out thousands of tonnes of rock for our roads and airports – particularly Gatwick – all over the South of England.

Nick Weaver, Christina White and I were taken on a special tour of the inside workings of Halecombe by Vaughan Gray recently. On a lower level, we saw the most incredible vertical seabed with very visible ripple patterns running through it – ripples made in the carboniferous period, so precious that Vaughan is guarding it to ensure it doesn’t get quarried.

Photo by Christina White

Photo above by Christina White, who will be revealing the inside of Halecombe on the outside, as part of the Trail

Grand tour of Halecombe - inside and out

Halecombe is proud of its good relationship with neighbours, especially with Leigh-on-Mendip primary school, who visit the peripheral area for forest school activities. They’ve even made some lovely posters reminding dog-walkers to be a little more caring of their environment…

Earlier on this year, Nick Weaver and I felt we wanted to enhance the experience of walking round the quarry.  On Easter bank holiday Monday, Nick and I enjoyed the warm spring sunshine while sowing wildflower seeds on molehills along the pathway.  Ideally seeds need a well cultivated bed of soil to germinate and grow well so, rather than choosing where to sow the seeds and then digging over a patch of grassland we decided to let the moles choose and do all the hard digging work for us.  All we had to do was scatter the seeds, pat them down and give them a little water. Time will tell if this is a success or a flop but it seems like a fun idea at the moment and if it works there will be an intriguing display of wildflowers in randomly distributed little patches during the summer.   ‘step in stone’  have teamed up with Somerset Wildlife Trust with a view to promoting their current ‘Save Our Magnificent Meadows’ project, and we wanted to say something about the interaction of quarrying with the environment and local people. Slightly eccentric, perhaps.

IMG_9990 IMG_9989 Sowing seeds on molehills

Save Our Magnificent Meadows is not only about saving existing wildflower meadows but also aims to restore and recreate flower rich habitats which support a huge range of wildlife as well as just looking beautiful. Our 4 guided walks in collaboration with them, will involve experiencing the wildlife close-up, with both an artist and wildflower expert.  For more information or to book a place on one of these walks visit: https://stepinstonesomerset.wordpress.com/workshops-walks-talks/

Fiona Campbell & Nick Weaver  19/5/15

work in progress

Finally got going on this malarky!!

New camera at last, just getting to grips with it….

Attached some on going ideas about the black limestone from the quarry.

What an industrial space, a space loaded with memories.

Scar print

 

Cath Bloomfield  18/5/15

A TRIPTYCH: SYNCLINE – ANTICLINE – PROCLINE

[Ralph Hoyte posts] I am a Bristol-based poet, writer and producer of GPS-triggered locative media. I deal in the live voice – mine, or multi-voice set-ups, set, er, somewhere, somehow. I write, sometimes, ‘poetry’ (whatever that is), more often, ‘poem-scripts’, often heavily research/historically/cultural-historically-based. I deliver them  live, or through ‘locative media for the smartphone’, or through any other means to hand (such as Raspberry Pi powered sculptures responding to user input through touch or light). I often work closely with Phill Phelps, coder and audio-engineer, on the  technical aspects of such projects.

For step in stone I am working on a triptych of sound interventions which all feed off the same poemscript; SYNCLINE , ANTICLINE, AND PROCLINE.

SYNCLINE

megaphone1

come in numero 82 your time is up: the different bits of the autonomous megaphone assemblage

The poemscript is recorded (2 or 3 voices, probably my voice and 1 or 2 synthesized voices), placed on an SD card inserted into a mini-mp3 player circuit board, played back through a megaphone (it’s waterproof), whole thing driven by, essentially, a motorbike battery. There are 5 or 6 such autonomous assemblages. They are hung off the edges of the cliffs in ‘The Amphitheatre’. Each unit has a different ‘personality’. The SD card is loaded with poemtext, possibly ambient, and … silence. At any one time you get poemtext, ambient, or silence. Six of these doing that, each with its different personality, creates the soundwalk as you perambulate around the floor of the Amphitheatre (keeping well away from the walls!). I like serendipity. There will also be a nightwalk.

Fairy Cave Quarry - speaker locations general 1

‘The Amphitheatre’ at Fairy Cave Quarryquarry - ampitheatre

 

 

 

 

 

ANTICLINEWestdown map

A GPS-triggered soundwalk for the smartphone:  ‘pools of sound’ are virtually placed along the ‘figure-of-eight’ walk around Westdown Quarry (think that man on the TV add who stumbled across a red circle on the ground: when he stepped into it, he heard music, when he stepped out of it, it stopped. Remove the red circle. That’s it)   You download the app, go to Westdown and turn it on. When your phone encounters a pool of sound you’ll hear the audio for that ‘virtual red circle’ (and, no, it doesn’t need a network signal). Of course, it’s  more elaborate than that ‘red circle’ scenario: you can make the audio in the soundpools do different things; you can also, interestingly, ‘stack-up’ the soundpools, or overlap them. Who knows what happens when you overlayer 3 zones?

PROCLINE

leaflet blurb - final copy2

‘A haptic audio-device’ for the Canal & Rivers Trust

For starters, the word ‘procline’ doesn’t really exist (see, WordPress underlined it in red. It doesn’t exist), and, if it did, it’s not, unlike ‘syncline’ and ‘anticline’, a geological word. Never mind. Maybe I’ll rename them ‘syncline’, ‘synform’ and ‘syntax’. Whatever it’s called, PROCLINE is  going to be a gallery-piece consisting of (probably) a geological specimen drawer thing with 3 drawers. When you pull out Drawer 1,  audio channel 1 is activated; ditto 2, ditto 3. What you hear of the common poemscript depends on how many drawers you’ve pulled out/pushed back in, and in what order. To add another layer of serendipity,we may programme it so  the audio-files associated with each drawer are chosen by the mini-computer driving the whole thing. In the drawers may be … stuff, resonating with the quarries. So it’s visual and tactile and user-directed.