Installation and Private View – Salisbury Arts Centre

The final hang last week at Salisbury Arts Centre took just 3 days, which was quite a feat!  Curated by Amanda Wallwork and me, and set up with the help of many other step in stone artists and a team at Salisbury Arts Centre, including Visual Arts Manager Louise.    As part of the installation , Tessa Farmer has re-created a miniature environment in the entrance display case of her skeletal fairies and other creatures interacting and emerging from fossils, some on loan from Somerset Earth Science Centre.  Ralph Hoyte has also re-created his GPS-triggered soundscape ‘ANTICLINE’ to listen to via smartphones around the grounds of the centre.  This can be downloaded via this link.   The artwork includes a selection of indoor and outdoor pieces from our 6 venues last year.
We had our Private Vew on Friday evening (19th Aug).  It was lovely to have so many of the artists together again, many who haven’t seen each other since last year’s project.  Numerous visitors came, expressing their interest and enthusiasm for the subject, our work and the exhibition as a whole.  “An intriguing multi-media, sophisticated exhibition!” We are pleased with the information/artist panels, which really help to tell the story.
Below are some images from our installation and Private View.  Do come and visit the exhibition (runs ’til 24 Sept)!
Fiona Campbell  22/8/16
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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:

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HALECOMBE:

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And some of our finished work:

WESTDOWN:

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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.

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Hope you can visit soon!

Fiona Campbell  24/8/15

The Wood Firing

Very Exciting!

The Seed Forms I have made using Whatley Clay have just been fired in my friend Bill Crumbleholme’s Wood Kiln. The whole process took more than 24 hours and I visited as the kiln was coming up to maximum temperature – lots of flames!

The Seed Forms will be shown at Black Swan Arts in October

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Caroline Sharp 18 August 2015

Tentacle-making

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.

Scrap donated by Chris Lee Pile of tentacles Table of scrap Inner structure for Scrap as fossil Making process Collection of scrap Making the scrap skeleton crinoid structure Tentacles in studio Colour sorting Crinoid skeleton Crinoid skeleton

Fiona Campbell 1/8/15

Seed Forms

I have been making some seed forms reflecting the windblown catkin seeds typical of both birch and hazel – major pioneer species within the disused Mendip Quarries.

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Using a mix of stoneware clay and clay from seams excavated as part of the modern day quarrying process at Whatley Quarry and collected stems I have been sculpting forms which evoke these catkins and their windblown nature.

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Caroline Sharp 24 July 2015

Considering Quarry Bones

e Quarry Bones

I’m considering the deer bones that I collected in the quarry and how they can form part of the cabinet collection. The vertibra are particularly beautiful and I’m considering casting and drawing from them and also how I may raise them up within the cabinet I am now building. The bones are of course also a testament to the vertiginous nature of the excavated quarry walls and tragic evidence of the lost lives of the luckless creatures that have fallen over the edge, their bones now winkled from the rocks by an enthusiastic forensic artist.

Duncan Cameron  23/6/15

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

Photoshoot at Asham/Westdown

Some of the team at Westdown

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:

Suzie transporting her rocks (and some of Fiona's tentacles)

Christina capturing the long wall Bronwen likes the walls

Another wall or plinth

Moss growing

Carrying the monster Heavy load, long walk - Nick and Fiona carting monster piece

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Bronwen's hand-made sketchbook Bronwen sketching

Suzie setting up rock/felt pieces Suzie's trial felt/rock pieces Suzie's trial felt/rock piece

Crinoid fossils

Nick Weaver with catkins

Setting up for photoshoot (work in progress) My work in progress - sea creature/tumbleweed-inspired

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Christina Christina at work Bronwen's found her site Christina and Bronwen

Loaded back on the truck

For a full range of photoshoot images, check out Duncan Simey’s website:

Fiona Campbell 19/4/15