An afternoon of Trials

Yesterday was an afternoon of trying out some of the felt pieces in two of the quarries:

Trial felt pieces Blog pic 2

Fairy Cave – trying out the best location for a number of small white balls in Fairy Cave.

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The “Island” of choice for “homing” the white balls against the steep wall of the quarry.

sample small white ball

A sample small white ball beside some of the new flowers that have grown up since my last visit to Fairy Cave Quarry.

 

Westdown Quarry – trying out felting a huge stone!

The process:

Choosing a possible stone  and   wrapping the stone to make a template

Choosing a possible stone                Blog pic 6

The felting process with supervisor!                  Its hard work keeping track of what is happening!

Blog pic 7Blog pic 8                     Blog pic 9

“Trialing” out the piece on the stone in Westdown Quarry.

Blog pic 10

 

Suzie Gutteridge  5/6/15

 

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

PERICLES vaulted the PERICLINE

Talker to my brother in law – a geologist – yesterday whilst out on a bike ride (interrupted to drop in to their flat)(thanks for the sherry and crisps! That’s what I call ‘a bike ride’!). He said ‘PERICLINE’ was a word. Indeed it is:

The Mendips are an example of anticlinal folds, recognised on geological maps by a concentric outcrop pattern with the oldest rocks at the core. The distinctively shaped variety of anticline that forms each of the Mendip Hills is known as a pericline.

So that’s it: Syncline / Anticline / Pericline

More: BGS

Ralph Hoyte  27/4/15

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.

 

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

20150416-144116-DSCF4075

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

20150416-152744-I39A8012 Ideas

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

An abundance of stones

An abundance of stones, this time at Westdown Quarry, means there is always somewhere to put things.

Fiona's Sculpture in Progress takes a rest

Fiona’s sculpture in progress takes a rest

It got quite warm so coats were abandonned

It got quite warm so coats were abandoned…

...cardigans (and a mollusc?)

…a cardigan (and a mollusc?)

...drawing materials

My sketching table

These creatures

These creatures have been here quite a long time,

whereas this one is a lot more recent

whereas this is a lot more recent

This one didn't need a stone

and this one didn’t need (fell off?) a stone.

Is this really going to work?

Is this really going to work?

And finally, Jack takes a break from filming

And finally, Jack takes a break

Bronwen Bradshaw, 17.4.2015

Photoshoot at Fairy Cave

A few of us met at Fairy Cave on Thursday for a photoshoot, equipment test and H&S walkabout with Martin Grass from Fairy Cave committee.  We had a glorious day of sunshine.  This had also brought rock climbers, who were already up rock faces in the quarry, when we arrived.  One of them – Terry Gifford – happened to have supported us via IdeasTap crowd funding, so it was a lovely surprise to meet him there!

Images below of: Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Fiona Campbell, Ralph Hoyte, Phill Phelps (sound engineer), Jack Offord (filmmaker), Martin Grass and Terry Gifford.  Photographs courtesy of Duncan Simey.  For more selection visit: www.wild-landscapes.co.uk

Jack Offord 20150409-124223-I39A7676

Fiona and Tessa Tessa Tessa and Christina Fiona, Martin, Ralph, Phill 20150409-130230-I39A7726 20150409-133117-DSCF3950 Terry, Martin, Tessa Ralph Hoyte Fiona Campbell Tessa setting up work for photoshoot 20150409-135549-I39A7786 20150409-135827-I39A7789 Tessa Farmer Tufa Fairies - Tessa Farmer Jack and Tessa 20150409-141710-I39A7810 20150409-141812-I39A7815 Ralph

We discovered that Fairy Cave is not only an area of SSSI for its renowned caves, but is also designated as SAC (a Europe-wide status) for its rare abundance of greater horseshoe bats – most evident in the winter months. Some caves were newly exposed through quarrying, although one was sadly removed.  When standing in parts of Fairy Cave quarry, we are standing in what was a vast ancient cave.

Fiona Campbell  12/4/15

Age of Crinoids

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.

Rugose Coral sketchRugose Coral fossilErnst Haeckel's illustration of Rugose Coral

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.

Crinoid and Coral sketchesIMG_9949

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.

Tumbleweed/neuron/crinoid ideaTentacles

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…

Quarry at Stoke St. MichaelScarlett Elf Cup fungi

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

Launch of Sculpture Design Competition

Somerset Earth Science Centre - photo by Duncan Simey

We held a Launch for the Sculpture Design Competition at Somerset Earth Science Centre, Stoke St. Michael on Monday 23 March, to give the public a chance to come along and find out more about the competition and our project as a whole.

Photoshoot by Mark Adler

It was good to hear artists discuss their ideas and see examples of work for the project so far.   Juliet Lawn, from Somerset Earth Science Centre, illustrated the geology of the area, allowing us to see and feel different types of limestone  in the Mendips –  black rock being most typical of the carboniferous era, when the Mendips were submerged by swampy sea,  giant dragonflies and a myriad of sea life forms existed.  In between slideshows Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliott, Bronwen Bradshaw and Cath Bloomfield spoke about their different art forms and gave ideas about how to approach design work.   The contrast between Duncan’s found rock pieces, Fiona’s mixed media sculptures, Bron’s hand-made books fusing words and print and Cath’s cut-out reliefs gave a strong indication of the range of work that will form step in stone.

Left to right: Bron, Cath and Duncan - photo by Duncan Simey Geology slideshow by Juliet - photo by Duncan Simey Slideshow by Fiona illustrating the project's development and design possibilities - photo by Duncan Simey Duncan Elliott with sculptures - photo by Duncan Simey Bronwen Bradshaw talking about her books - photo by Duncan Simey

We had resource tables with examples of sculptures, designs, rocks, fossils and other imagery to give inspiration.  Young visitors were able to talk to individual experts and start designing.

Scrap steel sculpture, Fiona Campbell - photo by Duncan Simey Mendip rock - photo by Duncan Simey

Thanks to those who came, and to all who helped and supported including Nick Weaver, Jack Robson, Duncan Simey, David Chandler, Mark Adler and to Juliet Lawn for hosting on behalf of Somerset Earth Science Centre.

Designs by Duncan Cameron

Entries for the under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition are open online from 1 April – 18 May ’15 at:  www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015

Fiona Campbell 29/3/15