Looking back… and a few of the best pics

step in stone by numbers:

Visitors 8114
Volunteers 43
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 filmcatalogues, 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…

step in stone artist research trip to Westdown/Asham Quarry.  Photo by Duncan Simey

Artist research trip, Westdown/Asham Quarry, Jan ’15. Photo Duncan Simey

Amanda Wallwork on Artist Research Trip at Fairy Cave Quarry

Amanda Wallwork at Fariy Cave Quarry, Jan ’15. Photo Duncan Simey

'step in stone' artistes reccy trip to Fairy Cave Quarry and Whatley Quarrey

Artist research trip, Whatley Quarry, Feb ’15. Photo Duncan Simey

Bronwen drawing at Westdown

Bron Bradshaw sketching at Westdown Quarry. Photo Duncan Simey

 Frost on research trip in rain

Stuart Frost, recce to Fairy Cave Quarry, Feb ’15. Photo Duncan Simey

Tessa & Jack - Fairy Cave

Jack Offord filming Tessa Farmer, Fairy Cave Quarry.  Photo Duncan Simey

Charlotte McKeown - young sculpture competition design winner

Charlotte McKeown – sculpture design competition winner

Charlotte and Lucja (under 13yrold winner) making winning sculpture

Lucja Korczak and Charlotte McKeown working on winning sculpture – made in a day

Kinetic Structure - made in a day - being used for the first time by Duncan Cameron, Charlotte and Lucja

Charlotte McKeown, Duncan Cameron, Lucja Korczak trying the newly made ‘Kinetic Structure’ – designed by Charlotte

Duncan Elliott's Sleeping Beauty at Somerset Earth Science Centre

Duncan Elliott’s Sleeping Beauty at Somerset Earth Science Centre. Photo Duncan Simey

Ducks and diatoms (by Fiona Campbell) at SESC.  Fiona's work.  Photo by Juliet Lawn

Duck on Fiona Campbell’s Diatom, SESC.  Photo Juliet Lawn

Tessa Farmer at SESC

Tessa Farmer, Out of the Earth, wormshells, soil, fossils, insects, bones, plant roots, tufa, glass dome, SESC. Photo Duncan Simey

 

Stuart Frost  Pavimentum  limestone dust. Photo by GUNHILD LIEN

Stuart Frost  Pavimentum limestone dust, Westdown/Asham Quarry. Photo Gunhild Lien

Bron's Guided Walk at Westdown with Somerset Wildlife Trust

Guided Walk with Bron Bradshaw and Somerset Wildlife Trust, Westdown/Asham Quarry

Christina White's Ocean Floor - Halecombe Quarry

Christina White’s ‘Ocean Floor – Halecombe Quarry ST697474’, installed. Photo Duncan Simey

Artmusic's BLAST at Westdown 22:8:15 - participating audience following live trumpeters

Artmusic’s ‘Blast’ performance, Westdown Quarry. Participating audience following trumpeters

Christin White's outdoor photographic workshop at Halecombe

Christina White’s Cyanotype/Vandyke Potographic Workshop at Halecombe Quarry – using bench as darkroom!

 

Tanya Josham's stone carving workshop

Tanya Josham’s community stonecarving workshop, SESC

Family interacting with Charlotte McKeown's Kinetic Structure, SESC

Family enjoying interactive Kinetic Structure, SESC

Duncan Cameron's Fairy Cave Cabinet

Duncan Cameron, Fairy Cave Cabinet, steel, wood glass, lamp, found items. Photo Duncan Simey

Above: Caroline Sharp, Pioneer Seeds, Stoneware and Whatley Clay, Willow.  Photo Duncan Simey

Below: CarolineSharp, Birch Layers, Birch, Split Hazel, Willow.  Photo Duncan Simey

BSA Exhibition, photo by Sally Barnett

step in stone Exhibition at Black Swan Arts. Photo Sally Barnett

 

BSA - step in stone, photo by Christina White

step in stone Exhibition at Black Swan Arts. Photo Christina White

Cath Bloomfield Collagraph on Black 01 Jo Hounsome Photography

Cath Bloomfield, Collagraph on Black 01. Photo Jo Hounsome

Duncan Elliott & Bronwen Bradshaw, BSA Round Tower, photo by Sally Barnett

Duncan Elliott and Bronwen Bradshaw, Black Swan Arts Round Tower. Photo Sally Barnett

Tessa Farmer  'The Quarry' (detail), BSA. Photo by Christina White

Tessa Farmer, The Quarry (detail), BSA. Photo Christina White

InspirED School Workshop with Fiona Campbell - students from Yrs 4,5,6, Curry Mallet Primary - Wire and paper Seeds, SESC

InspirED workshop with Fiona Campbell – Yrs 4,5,6, Curry Mallet Primary School – Wire and Paper Seed Forms, SESC

Amanda Wallwork at Fairy Cave Quarry

Amanda Wallwork, ‘Geo Code Specimens – Eastern Mendip Sequence’. Photo Duncan Simey

Tessa Farmer's installation at Fairy Cave Quarry

Tessa Farmer, ‘The Colony’, wormshell colony, crab claws, mummified birds, taxidermy thrush, wasp nest, dried frog, dried bat, dried lizard, bones, coral, insects, plant roots, Fairy Cave Quarry.  Photo Duncan Simey

Installations by Suzie Gutteridge at Fairy Cave Quarry

Suzie Gutteridge, Squaring the Circle, local wool. Photo Duncan Simey at Fairy Cave Quarry

 

Fiona Campbell's 'Eviscerated Earth' (detail) at Fairy Cave Quarry

Fiona Campbell, ‘Eviscerated Earth’, scrap steel found in quarries, recycled wire, paper, wax, string, nylon, cotton, oil.  Photo Duncan Simey in Fairy Cave Quarry

Visitors crossing the stepping stones at Fairy Cave Quarry

Visitors crossing the stepping stones at Fairy Cave Quarry

Workshop with Duncan Cameron - Clay and Plaster Relief Tiles, SESC

Workshop with Duncan Cameron – Casting Animal Tracks, Clay and Plaster Relief Tiles, SESC

Fairy Cave Quarry - end of the day..  with Sally Kidall's work

Fairy Cave Quarry at dusk with step in stone installed.  Photo Clive Gutteridge

 

Fiona Campbell   23/11/15

 

 

 

 

 

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Going Underground: molehills and beyond

“Out of the Earth ii” at Halecombe Quarry. Photos Duncan Simey

I’ve been intrigued by molehills for many years. As a student in Oxford I lived next to the University Parks, home to abundant moles and their earthy mounds. I constructed a motorised mole hill (on top of a remote controlled car) and controlled it from afar, startling unsuspecting passers by.

I always notice molehills now and ponder the unseen, underground activity they hint at. Moles are rather fascinating animals. According to wikipedia: “A mole’s diet primarily consists of earthworms and other small invertebrates found in the soil, and a variety of nuts. The mole runs are in reality ‘worm traps’, the mole sensing when a worm falls into the tunnel and quickly running along to kill and eat it. Because their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze earthworms, moles are able to store their still-living prey for later consumption. They construct special underground “larders” for just this purpose; researchers have discovered such larders with over a thousand earthworms in them. Before eating earthworms, moles pull them between their squeezed paws to force the collected earth and dirt out of the worm’s gut.” I’ve taxidermied a few moles over the years and used them in pieces to be preyed upon by the fairies but haven’t incorporated a mole hill until now. At Halecombe quarry along the conservation area which surrounds and overlooks the working quarry moles are plentiful. The neat mounds of fine soil excavated by the moles’ incredibly strong forearms and paddle like feet echo the huge industrial scale digging and excavation below.

For Step in Stone I am imagining underground colonisation by the fairies. At Halecombe this is hinted at by a single erupted molehill that reveals fairy architecture and moles enslaved by the fairies to expand and extend their usurped domain for their own purposes. At Fairy Cave their lair will exist deeper underground, amongst extinct fossilised sea creatures but also incorporating specimens of thriving extant wildlife. Amongst other materials I’m using a serpulid (wormshell) colony, wasp nest segments, mouse bones, insects and bats.

Installation day at Westdown Quarry

Photo by Duncan Simey

wormshellcolony

Serpulid colony

 

 

Tessa Farmer  7/9/15

Step 2 Installation and Opening week

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.

WESTDOWN:

step in stoneInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown Quarrystep in stonestep in stone

HALECOMBE:

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And some of our finished work:

WESTDOWN:

step in stonestep in stonestep in stone

step in stoneBunker circa 1970's Westdown Quarry grid ref ST717456 pigment inks on Somerset enhanced paper

Installations at Westdown Quarrystep in stone

Installations at Westdown Quarry

HALECOMBE:

step in stoneInstallation day at Westdown Quarry

Installation day at Westdown QuarryInstallation day at Westdown Quarry

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.

IMG_0718 IMG_0714DSC_0002 DSC_0019IMG_0698 IMG_0690 IMG_0699 IMG_0702  IMG_0752 Installations at Somerset Earth Sciences CentreIMG_0803 IMG_0823

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!

IMG_0775 Artmusic's BLAST at Westdown QuarryIMG_0778 DSCF2039 DSCF2071 DSCF2078 Artmusic's BLAST, trumpeter John Plaxton (photo Rupert Kirkham) Artmusic's BLAST, trumpeter Jack Vincent (photo Rupert Kirkham)

Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.

step in stone

Hope you can visit soon!

Fiona Campbell  24/8/15

Cyanotype / Van Dyke workshop – Halecombe Quarry

Awoke to a bright sunny day (amongst a series of very wet days) so it was all systems go for a workshop ‘in the field’ ! Conducting a workshop outside has logistical problems, especially when you have to construct a mobile ‘darkroom’ (ish!). Halecombe has a lovely grass walkway along the rim, with a large clearing and outstanding view of the working quarry. The bench was the obvious structure to use to create the sunlight proof room, so using blackout material I was able to create a space where the participants could coat the chemicals onto paper and cloth, leave them to dry and process after exposing.

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A blue tarpaulin demarked the classroom, giving us somewhere comfortable and dry to sit on!

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After introducing and discussing the processes and their applications, we coated the materials with the cyanotype sensitizer, made by mixing Ammonium Ferric Citrate and Potassium Ferrycianide.

3

Whilst they were drying, we collected plant materials which were then arranged into compositions using printing frames, which were then loaded with the sensitized paper. The frames were then exposed to the sun!

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Watching each print change under the sun, going from yellow to blue to grey, once it is correctly exposed is a fascinating process!

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To ‘develop’ the exposed prints, you wash them in water till the yellow from the unexposed area is removed. This is done under the ‘sun proof’ room as is the drying. We then changed water and chemicals for the Van Dyke process, the poor man’s ‘Kallitype’. The chemicals involved are mixed from Ferric Ammonium Citrate, Tartaric Acid (Brewer’s Yeast) and Silver Nitrate. It is a more complicated, but produces a much more sensitive solution. The bright sunshine meant it could overexpose quite easily!

 

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All 3 under the blackout material, coating paper!!

The prints were exposed the same way, but turn bright orange! We then wash them, and fix them in Hypo solution (Sodium Thiosulphate), which makes them turn brown.

 

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Working in a field situation has its problems, but it is a wonderful way to engage with the landscape. The background of the quarry and its noises enhanced the atmosphere, and at the same time we were able to look at the installed artworks. The results had an ethereal quality and were not as precise as under controlled conditions, which in itself enhanced the experience.

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Christina White  22/8/15

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

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

Artists Research Trip 1

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.

Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1 Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1 Artist Research Trip 1 Artist Research Trip 1 Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1 Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1  Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1Artist Research Trip 1

Artist Research Trip 1

 

Fiona Campbell  9/2/15