Final weekend coming up!

Drawing to a close this weekend, we have been staggered by the large number of people coming to our 6 venues, taking part in our events and wonderful feedback from visitors of all ages, local to international.  Last weekend over 300 people visited the magical Fairy Cave Quarry venue!   Family Day was a fantastic success – really special, so many enthusiastic children, grown ups and in-betweenies enjoying the ambiance and art at Fairy Cave.  Activities included Scavenger Hunt, Rubbings, Interpretation sheets, Clay pressings, Game of Stones and Photograms with Christina White.  Cavers, climbers, artists, walkers, people from Bristol, Taunton, London, France, Uganda and Spain have visited.  For Artmusic’s Blast performances a live trumpeter ambled among the visitors, echoing around the quarry.

Thanks to Duncan Simey, Sally Barnett , Crysse Morrison, Duncan Cameron, Sally Kidall, Emma Warren  and Chris Lee for some of the photographs:

Stode students looking at Fiona Campbell's 'Eviscerated Earth'Eviscerated Earth - Fiona CampbellChris Lee's pic DSC_2437 Finale Preview eve at BSA, step in stone Sarah - cleaner _DSC1954 _DSC1984 _DSC1996 _DSC2002 IMG_0943 IMG_0966 IMG_0976 IMG_0979 IMG_0980IMG_0765 IMG_0988Sally Kidall's work at Fairy Cave QuarryArtmusic at Fairy Cave QuarrySuzie Gutteridge at Fairy Cave Quarry Christina White at Fairy Cave Quarry Sally Kidall's work at Fairy Cave QuarryFiona Campbell's work at Fairy Cave Quarry Bronwen Bradshaw's work at Fairy Cave QuarryCatherine Bloomfield at Fairy Cave Quarry

It’s been a hectic time for all involved, but we all feel hugely encouraged by the positive responses.

Comments from visitors include:

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..”

“Inspiring and fun – creativity thrived in the kids as a result”

“A wonderfully different experience”

“Wonderful – best art gallery I’ve ever been to”

“Unique and surprising”

“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!”

step in stone’s final set of workshops have begun: Wirework with me, Wet Felting with Suzie Gutteridge, both at Black Swan Arts, Clay and Plaster Relief Tiles with Duncan Cameron at Somerset Earth Science Centre. Several schools are taking part again – All Hallows Prep School did Perambulatory Poetry at Fairy Cave Quarry with Ralph Hoyte, who also led an awesome night walk yesterday, and Robert Blake students made pinhole cameras with Christina White today. Tessa Farmer is giving insights into her work through Talks in the next couple of days.

“I love the way the fourteen different artists have all been inspired to respond to various aspects of quarries in so many different and interesting ways.” Nick Weaver – partner in the project.

This weekend (17-18 October) gives the public a last chance to explore the magical Fairy Cave quarry, normally gated, so don’t miss it!

 

Fiona Campbell  14/10/15

 

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Welding and organising.

Great to meet up with several of the artists in the Frome Museum last week and for us all to consider how our various creations will work amongst the collections and display cases. Back welding in my studio this weekend assembling the Fairy Cave cabinet and organising the contents in readiness for glazing and installation in the quarry in a week.

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Duncan Cameron  13/9/15

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

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Serpulid colony

 

 

Tessa Farmer  7/9/15

Collecting feathers and bones.

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Spent the evening exploring the Fairy Cave perimeter and collecting feathers and old metal washers. The quarry echoing with the sharp clinks of climbers enjoying the last evening sun on the cliff face and the ever-present crow calls. I had intended to cast more tracks however the recent heavy rain meant that the the little mud was underwater with large puddles covering large areas of the quarry floor.

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Duncan Cameron  1/9/15

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:

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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.

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.

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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

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.

caroline sharp catkins  DSCN7141

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

Collett Park and Sustainability Show

We had a couple of stands last weekend at Collett Park, Shepton Mallet and Sustainability Show, Taunton to promote step in stone to the public.  Our newly printed leaflets were handed out to plenty of passing visitors and it was wonderful to receive so much interest in the project.

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Fiona Campbell  18/6/15

Making a relief.

The pit edge

The pit edge

I am making a relief out of black materials, card and paper, old prints. I want to build up layers of strata, and show where these have moved over time. Our intervention has altered the landscape of the Mendips irreversibly by mining the black limestone and other minerals. A friend asked me how the quarries could be filled in, by excavating a huge pit somewhere else. Dig a hole to fill a hole!!

Looks like Fiona and the team had a wonderful day in Bristol , the pics look great.

Cath Bloomfield  15/6/15

In the spotlight at Big Green Week’s Hub, Bristol

We had a fun day out in Bristol yesterday speaking publicly about step in stone at the Hub for Bristols’ Big Green Week.  Christina, Ralph, Fiona, Nick and Charlotte (our young sculpture design competition winner) took to the platform – a symbolic BGW green chair draped with examples of our work – to explain our forthcoming project to a drop-in audience.  Ralph treated us all to a snippet of his new poetic soundwalk – due to be located in the quarries.  The Hub is sited in the city centre near the cascade steps, so plenty of people stopped by, some listening throughout, and a few asking questions about the concept.  Jack Offord, our film maker came along and took some excellent pics.

Ralph trumpeting step in stone BGW Photo Jack OffordFiona speaking step in stone BGW Photo Jack OffordRalph, Christina step in stone BGW Photo Jack OffordRalph step in stone BGW Photo Jack OffordNick step in stone BGW Photo Jack OffordChristina step in stone BGW Photo Jack Offordstep in stone signed big Green Chair BGW Photo Jack OffordCharlotte McKeown - our young sculpture design winner

Later the same day, we met up with radio presenter Martin Evans (BBC Bristol and Somerset), who interviewed us for a pre-record – due to be broadcast nearer our opening week at the beginning of July.

step in stone - Fiona interview with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offordstep in stone - Christina interview with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offordstep in stone - Ralph interview with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offordstep in stone - Charlotte interview with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offordstep in stone - group interview with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offordstep in stone - group photo with Martin Evans - Photographer Jack Offord