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.
And some of our finished work:
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.
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!
Can’t wait to download Ralph Hoyte’s GPS Soundwalk ‘ANTICLINE‘ – now available for your smartphone before visiting Westdown.
Hope you can visit soon!
Fiona Campbell 24/8/15
RALPH HOYTE: Battened down the hatches and got seriously down to the actual act of creation this week (impending deadlines always help inspiration, of course). I’m creating SYNCLINE in Fairy Cave Quarry with my frequent collaborator Phill Phelps (audio engineer, coder, musician). It all started with me saying to Phill, ‘hey, how about hanging autonomous speaker units off the rim of the cliffs and beaming sound into the quarry?’ (see earlier entries).
So far we’ve bought most of the gubbins: 6 megaphones (more waterproof than conventional speakers, being made of metal), the mp3 player circuit boards, the wiring etc. We’re waiting on the bike batteries to drive the things – held up in China, I believe.
So much for the hardware. The software, in this case, is the poemscripts I’m writing. ‘Poemscripts’? The technology, that is to say the form, decides the content. Let’s say I wrote a conventional poem and simply divided it into 6 parts, or voices. You’d have 6 voices possibly overlapping each other. This would be mere cacophony. So the point is, how to compose for 6 ‘voices’ in this setting. I decided to set up 6 buckets, theme them, then simply dump all material pertaining to that theme into that bucket. Current buckets are:
- Fluid (refers to the nature of the material, not a description of the content. The voice is fluid)
- Intelligence (on themes of ‘what is intelligence’)
- Lists (of relevance to the two quarries)
- Oracle (oracles lived in caves and prophesised)
- Quarries (related to these particular quarries)
No human voices were abused in the making of this work. They are all synthesised. Each ‘theme’ has a synthesized voice. The synthesised voices were virtually auditioned (which led to some rather amusing conversations, e.g.: Ralph: where’s Ana? Phill: she’s downloading. Ralph: tell her to get a move on, we haven’t got all night! Phill: OK, she’s downloaded – but whatiszname … Ralph: Oliver, English Oliver – Phill: he needs upgrading, that’s the old voice, let me get his updated voice…)
So far we’ve got:
- Veena: Indian, female: lists
- Moira: Irish, female:
- Kate: English RP: geology
- Alice (a-lee-che): Italian, female: Latin & intelligence
- Susan: American: fluid
- Chantal: French: quarries
- Oliver: Standard English: Oracle1
- Alex: American, female: Oracle2
- Fiona: Scottish: possible fluid
- Kyoko: standby
Each quarry/medium of delivery demands a different mix. SYNCLINE in Fairy Cave is fractured, often broken, gnostic, hermeneutic. Not only do we have a quarry, where things which were not meant (!) to be seen lie exposed to the sun, the air, the gaze; also things here were smashed up, pulverized, blown apart, make up our roads, we drive Mercedes GLA45 AMG 4MATIC’s on them; but also: SYNCLINE – the earth in her groanings moved, she fractured the rocks, they were made molten, or lay flat and serene whilst the millennia snowed calcium on them. So the words are fractured, groaning, the millennia have sowed inconformity in them, things have intruded on their reverie, the notes are incongruous, scatty, effluvial…
Delivery is ‘in progress’. The mp3 readers are just … mp3 readers, They don’t do fancy stuff, they just read file1, read file2, read file3. So we sow ‘blank’ (silent) files in amongst them. The amount of silence depends on the nature of the voice. So Veena, for example, takes 8 hours to finish her list, and only then loops. Susan is more vocal. But we have to sow enough silence in amongst the files so that the chances of cacophony are small (but cacophony is sometimes good). Then we simulated on Ableton Live. Then we turned some down so you get the effect of the megaphone nearest you is loudest (of course), and the others are at various distances (which they will be, depending on where they are aimed). Then we considered the level of each, so we’d know how close you have to get to a megaphone to hear it. Then we put an echo on some. Then we decided we were tired and there were too many variables to code, so we went and cooked supper and drank cider.
ANTICLINE in Westdown is for a different media: GPS triggered smartphone media. So people will walk through the quarryscape. Will you expect ‘a story’. Maybe you’ll get one, maybe Discobolous will eject his head from the bedrock and stagger forth. I don’t know, I’m currently writing it, I don’t know what he’ll want to do, say. Maybe nothing. Voices? They haven’t spoken, yet.
Ralph Hoyte 16/7/15
Yesterday was an afternoon of trying out some of the felt pieces in two of the quarries:
Fairy Cave – trying out the best location for a number of small white balls in Fairy Cave.
The “Island” of choice for “homing” the white balls against the steep wall of the quarry.
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!
Choosing a possible stone and wrapping the stone to make a template
The felting process with supervisor! Its hard work keeping track of what is happening!
“Trialing” out the piece on the stone in Westdown Quarry.
Suzie Gutteridge 5/6/15
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
Ralph Hoyte 27/4/15
[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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
For a full range of photoshoot images, check out Duncan Simey’s website:
Fiona Campbell 19/4/15
An abundance of stones, this time at Westdown Quarry, means there is always somewhere to put things.
Bronwen Bradshaw, 17.4.2015
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.
Fiona Campbell 27/2/15
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.
Fiona Campbell 9/2/15