A great day at the SESC casting otter paw prints, looking at otter scat, getting shoes stuck in mud, casting natural history samples in clay and plaster and dismantling owl pellets – great fun had by all.
Duncan Cameron 11/10/15
Our opening week of Step 1: installing artwork, signage, running school workshops, guided walk, making a sculpture in a day, press launch and official opening at Somerset Earth Science Centre has been a whirlwind of activity!
4 of us spent 2 days setting up artwork inside and around the grounds of SESC. My artwork for ‘step in stone‘ includes both new work inspired by features of the quarries (for Steps 2 & 3) and pre-existing work (for Step 1) that reflect how the quarries resonate with my interest in life forms. The installation of my floating pieces involved adventures in a boat. 2 helpers were enlisted from Moons Hill quarry (both called Paul) to assist with this. Slightly perturbed by the strangeness of it all to start with, they were soon singing rowing songs – delighted by the novelty once they relaxed into their new roles and we floated the first ‘Diatom’ in the water. My other installations meant climbing up tall ladders, and wrapping ‘Lichen’ round a tree with helper Nigel. Duncan Elliott dragged his heavy stone pieces up the road on a trolley, and built huge scaffolding frames to hoist up his ‘Age of Stone’ – a back-aching job, but worth the effort – it is magnificent! Tessa Farmer arrived on a train from London laden with her intriguing boxes of insects, miniature evil fairies, worm casts and bell jar – the intricate work taking her hours to install – and Christina White set up her beautiful multi-exposure photographs in the Centre against limestone walls.
Some of this process was documented by Duncan Simey (see ‘wild-landscapes’ photos below) and filmmaker Jack Offord, for our final documentary film.
We opened on Wednesday 8th July, and have already had a wide range of visitors of all ages engaging with our work, including 2 school groups through Somerset Art Works’ inspirED programme and some guided walkers through our collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust. My half day workshop was with Yr 7 pupil premium students from Selwood School. In small groups they created group wire pieces based on silver birch seeds. Suzie’s workshop the next day with Castle School students resulted in felted balls using locally sourced wool. Both sets of work will be exhibited as part of the Trail at Halecombe Quarry from Step 2 onwards.
Our first week culminated yesterday in the making of Charlotte McKeown’s sculpture with her in just one day. This was her award for winning for our ‘Under 20’s Sculpture Design Competition’. A bit like scrapheap challenge, a small, dedicated team worked hard to create the sculpture in a day. Despite having prepared materials and got some parts together for it, the challenge was still a little daunting. Our team included Charlotte, Lucja Korczak, who won the under 13 year-old design competition prize, her mum Aga, Duncan Cameron (step in stone artist and Strode College tutor to Charlotte), Nick Weaver (step in stone Partner) and me. Perhaps the best thing about yesterday was how everyone worked together so well to make it happen and with such aplomb! A slight rush to finish before the arrival of press and guests for our official opening at 5pm, the sculpture was installed by the Centre entrance. Sarah Jackson from Mendip Hills AONB kindly did the honours to ‘open’ the event, and we all celebrated the start of an exciting few months ahead!
Thanks to Gill Odolphie and Juliet Lawn at SESC for putting up with us all week and supporting us throughout!
Do please come and visit Somerset Earth Science Centre (SESC) – open to public Weds 9am-4pm & special events
Artists exhibiting at SESC: Fiona Campbell, Duncan Elliott, Tessa Farmer, Christina White, Charlotte McKeown – young sculpture design competition winner
Fiona Campbell 12/7/15