step in stone – the journey

“Step in Stone…A multi stranded art trail in 2015 around 4 disused/working quarries in the East Mendips”

Image ‘Westdown Quarry’ (2015) © Christina White - step in stone artist

black-swan-artsmoons-hill-and-halecombe-quarry-398310mnd-somerset-earth-science-centre

fairy-cave-with-christina-white-duncan-simey
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Catch up with what’s happening

14 March 2017, 9:07 pm
bronwenbradshaw
Step in stone seems to have infected me with a need to draw rocks. I went to the American South West on a road trip last year which I’ve documented thoroughly both in my blog and a fairly random sketchbook – drawing out of a moving car window, for instance. But at the Grand Canyon, … Continue reading From Quarry to Canyon


22 August 2016, 12:49 pm
fionacampbellart
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 … Continue reading Installation and Private View – Salisbury Arts Centre


11 August 2016, 6:13 pm
fionacampbellart
We are gearing up to our exhibition at Salisbury Art Centre starting next week.  It runs Thursday 18th August-Saturday 24th September, open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10am-3pm. Our Private View is on Friday 19th August 6-8pm – please come along if you are in the area! As part of the exhibition, there will be a located GPS-triggered poetic … Continue reading step in stone – Salisbury Art Centre 18 Aug – 24 Sept


23 March 2016, 9:40 am
fionacampbellart
Great news – we will be exhibiting a selection of step in stone artwork by all 14 artists this summer at Salisbury Art Centre, Wiltshire: The exhibition runs from 18 August – 24 September.  Private View Friday 19th August, 6-8pm. This exhibition tells the story of a unique event held in the summer/autumn of 2015. Fourteen artists, … Continue reading step in stone tours to Salisbury Art Centre


8 February 2016, 8:52 pm
fionacampbellart
Terry Gifford, one of our crowd funding donors, has written an article featuring step in stone for the Alpine Journal, a hardback publication.   Terry is the unofficial gardener of climbs at Fairy Cave Quarry, a judge for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2016 and was Director of the annual International Festival of Mountaineering Literature for 21 years.  Former … Continue reading Review for Alpine Journal 2016 by Terry Gifford


1 2
“ If ever there was a physical entrance into
fairyland I think it may well be found here ”

Tessa Farmer of Fairy Cave quarry

Image (2015) © Tessa Farmer - step in stone artist


step in stone, an art in quarries trail coming to the Mendips this summer will certainly turn heads – to fresh thinking if not to stone. This unique inter-disciplinary art event involves a diverse group of 14 leading local and international artists who are responding to the quarried landscape of East Mendip. The nature of these fascinating, alien environments is inspiring works in surprising forms – poetic GPS-triggered sound works, miniscule taxidermy, kinetic stone sculptures and much more.

If you were to fly over the Mendip Hills in Somerset, UK, the most striking feature would be the number of vast quarries dominating the area – among the largest in Europe. Less obvious are several disused quarries, rapidly being re-colonised by nature. You can easily walk within a stone’s throw of many of these quarries without noticing they are there, so still and empty they stand but stumble across one by chance and you can’t fail to be amazed by their grandeur and beauty.

Artist Fiona Campbell did just that, discovering old quarries while walking her boxer dog and exploring the area a few years ago. Inspired and fascinated by their unexpected drama, Fiona embarked on an investigation into these hidden gems, while also finding a new source of discarded scrap metal for her sculptural work.

“The first disused quarry I came across was on a woodland walk. From a narrow dark pathway, an opening leads you to a rocky escarpment, down a scree slope into a huge canyon-like landscape, filled with lush lakes, massive stratified cliff faces and birds of prey hovering above – it was truly awesome and remains my favourite. So many quarries in the Mendips are now disused, enigmatic environments, taken over by wildlife, some designated as ‘Sites of Special Scientific Interest’. Others are desolate underworlds of canyons, lakes, huge ruins, and rusting machinery – fossils of both ancient and modern eras. Scoop out a hundred tons of rock a day – carboniferous limestone for example – for 120 years and you have a gargantuan cavity of time, reflecting life dating back over 350 million years. All this provides an extraordinary backdrop and inspiration for artwork”, Fiona explains.

fionacampbell‘Idea for installation at Westdown Quarry’ (2015) © Fiona Campbell ducanworkKarst – beyond good (Fallen Angel) found limestone fragments (2015) © Duncan Elliott

A STEP UP – SOMERSET’S WHERE IT’S ART – August Update Details

Having spent a year raising funds and support, the project is really gathering momentum leading up to the opening on July 8th. “Bringing step in stone to fruition is the fulfilment of a dream I’ve had for years – to have contemporary art exhibited in these enigmatic spaces here in the Mendips” says curator/artist/manager Fiona Campbell. “With 14 highly creative minds adding their genius to the mix, what comes out is such a vibrant concoction, new collaborative ventures and works that have resonance.”

A working quarry is awe inspiring, but disused quarries have a more surreal quality. These gargantuan cavities become re-colonised by wildlife of a different sort, illustrating nature’s tenacity. Sheer, exposed rock faces, once seabeds encrusted with fossils of ancient sea-life, offer a dramatic backdrop. Birds of prey nest in the cliffs, and a variety of interesting vegetation seeds itself. They represent a world 350 million years ago. “The quarries remind me of my childhood home in Kenya, which is perhaps why I feel such affinity with them,” says Fiona.

Ambitious artworks will give visitors an experience not to be forgotten. Although the backdrop is stone, most of the artwork is not. International land artists Stuart Frost and Sally Kidall will install site-specific environmental pieces; Suzie Gutteridge uses felt and found materials; Duncan Elliott is animating a life-size stone sculpture made from found stone fragments; Tessa Farmer’s installations (seen at London’s Saatchi Gallery and Natural History Museum) feature tiny skeletal, anarchic fairies, preserved insects and taxidermy. “Natural history detective” Duncan Cameron, is fascinated by wildlife and the evidence left behind of its presence; Landscape artist Caroline Sharp weaves gentle sculptures from natural materials; Photographic artist Christina White, who focuses on Mendip quarries and mine workings, ancient and modern, sees the old seabed rock faces as “lifelines on the palm of your hand”. Inter-disciplinary artists from Artmusic and Ralph Hoyte, a renowned Bristol poet, feature sound works. Ralph’s downloadable GPS piece and triptych of sound interventions for a motion-sensitive soundwalk, will give visitors a novel experience as they perambulate around Fairy Cave Quarry’s amphitheatre. Catherine Bloomfield’s work comprises low relief sculptures, assemblages, collagraph and print and she is exploring larger scale sculptural pieces as a new departure. Etching, text and bookmaking are the principal medium of Bronwen Bradshaw; Painter Amanda Wallwork, is interested in geological time and explores its representation in her art; the fossilised remains of ancient life forms found in the local rocks provide inspiration for Fiona Campbell’s giant constructions rendered in found materials such as rusting scrap steel, copper wire and intricately woven twine and coloured netting.

As well as featuring these accomplished artists, who all have links with the South West, step in stone aims to involve the wider community in making and appreciating artistic practice through a series of workshops, talks and guided walks. There’s an opportunity for young artists to enter a sculpture design competition. All design entries will be on display at Black Swan Arts, Frome in October and the winner will create their piece in a day with Fiona Campbell’s help, to have it exhibited throughout the step in stone programme. Entry for this competition closes on 18 May, online at: www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015.

step in stone will be speaking to a drop-in audience at Bristol’s Big Green Week outside at the watersteps, near the Watershed on Sunday 7th July at 12 noon, and taking a stand at The Sustainability Show in Taunton on Sunday 14th June.
The project itself runs from 8th July to 18th October. For further details about step in stone or to book a step in stone workshop, guided walk or artist talk visit: www.stepinstone-somerset.co.uk

The project (8 July – 18 October), starts in the grounds around Somerset Earth Science Centre for phase 1.

On 15th August, Westdown and Halecombe quarries will have artwork installed and the final phase will form part of Somerset Art Weeks Festival’s Momentum programme,

3rd – 18th October, at Fairy Cave Quarry, Black Swan Arts Centre and Frome Museum.

 
 
 
 

Acknowledgements

“I have a lot of individuals and organisations to thank for this.” says Fiona Campbell.

Funding bodies include:

    • Arts Council England
    • National Lottery
    • Mendip Hills Fund
    • Ganes Trust
    • Frome Town Council
    • local trust fund
    • a successful crowd-funding campaign via IdeasTap

Project partners:

    • Nick Weaver
    • Black Swan Arts
    • Somerset Art Works
    • Mendip Hills Fund
    • Mendip Hills AONB
    • Somerset Earth Science Centre
    • Somerset Wildlife Trust
    • Frome Museum
    • The Quarries

Background to the project

3 years on, Fiona has successfully formulated an ambitious plan to stage an art-in-quarries trail, bringing together groups of like-minded passionate artists, scientists and educators for a major art project entitled step in stone. Having just received their full funding target for the project, thanks to Arts Council England/National Lottery, Mendip Hills AONB and Mendip Hills Fund, Ganes Trust, Somerset Art Works, Somerset Wildlife Trust, a local trust fund and individual supporters via IdeasTap crowdfunding, also a donator, step in stone is now on full steam ahead for its opening this summer.

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.

CapsulaCapsula Picea excelsa/spruce – carved, drilled and scorched (2015) © Stuart Frost

“I found the quarry landscapes really fascinating, alien, exciting …” artist Ralph Hoyte.

lestweforget‘Sketch for ‘The Grass Is Always Greener: lest we forget’ (2015) © Sally Kidall
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.

A collaborative multi-stranded art trail

At its heart step in stone will be a collaborative multi-stranded art trail around 3 disused and working quarries in the East Mendips, illuminating these spectacular, hidden landscapes while exploring Somerset’s heritage and beauty. Fourteen artists, all with connections to South West England but from as far afield as Norway and Australia, will develop and create a series of research-led site-specific temporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the nature of quarries, their nature and place in the cultural and industrial heritage of the region. Contemporary sculpture, land art, photography, textiles, painting, drawing, sound, spatial poetry and printmaking will be installed within these environments, aiming to surprise, delight, challenge, fascinate and inform.

“ I am very excited to have on board such high calibre artists, including Tessa Farmer, who’s work I came across at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Her miniscule plant-fibre ‘fairies’ and other alien creations involving taxidermy will be perfect in the magical Fairy Cave quarry – a wonderful contrast to some of the larger pieces we’ll produce. I plan to make some large-scale work using found and recycled materials inspired by the sea life that was. It will certainly be a challenging project!” Fiona says.

A free event, open to the public, step in stone will offer local communities and visitors from afar a memorable experience linking culture and environment, encompassing meaningful art and science (natural history, ecology, geology), increasing public awareness of these beautiful spaces and issues surrounding them. Central to the project will be broad public engagement.

Guided walks will be run in collaboration with microscopists from Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) and artists, exploring the quarries; artist-led talks and art workshops will also engage the wider community, aiming to reach a broad spectrum of people. Workshops specifically to give school children an opportunity to experience a creative, educational resource will be supported by SAW’s InspirED offers for subscribing schools. Linked exhibitions will be held in the Black Swan Arts Centre (BSA), Frome, Somerset Earth Science Centre (SESC), near Shepton Mallet, and Frome Museum.

Young budding artists will have an opportunity to get involved and exhibit their own work alongside international artists. A sculpture design competition will be held in May ’15 in collaboration with BSA, for under 20 year olds. Up to 20 of the best entries will be on show during Somerset Art Weeks Festival ’15 at the Black Swan Gallery. The winning designer will work with a step in stone artist to create their work in 3-d, which will be exhibited as part of the Trail.

Meet the Artists
The step in stone team includes leading local, regional and international artists, invited and selected with the assistance of Somerset Art Works and Black Swan Arts Centre.

Artmusic – interdisciplinary collaborations. See Lachrymae

Cath Bloomfield – low relief sculptures, assemblages, collagraph, and print

Bronwen Bradshaw – abstract contemporary printmaker. 
See Somerset Printmakers

Duncan Cameron – mixed media sculptural work. See natural history collections in cabinets

Fiona Campbell – sculptor using recycled metal and found materials. See SAW/NGS Abundance Garden Trail; Scraptors narrative sculpture Trail; Glastonbury Festival

Duncan Elliott – sculptures from found rock fragments. See Atkinson Gallery

Tessa Farmer – international artist of miniscule sculptures. See Natural History Museum, Saatchi Gallery, Holburne Museum

Stuart Frost – sculptor & environmental artist. See Victoria Art Gallery, Bath & Professor of Art, Norway

Suzie Gutteridge – multi media artist. See Sheffield Millenium Galleries

Ralph Hoyte – sculptural & spatial poetry. See Bristol’s floating harbour verse & Garden of the 4 Jewels

Sally Kidall – international environmental artist. See Bondi Beach, Sculpture by the Sea & International Contemporary Sculpture Festival

Caroline Sharp – artist & landscape architect. See Walford Mill & Crafts Study Centre

Amanda Wallwork – artist. See Mapping The Jurassic Coast; exlab project & b-side multi media arts festival

Christina White – photographic artist and teacher. See Quarry Faces & Mendip Rocks!

“…Stone bears us up;
stone weighs us down;
stone marks the place where
once flesh
squabbled upon the earth…”

Extract from ‘STONE’

Ralph Hoyte (step in stone artist)


Detail of Fairy Cave Quarry’ (2015) © Duncan Simey
The Mendips are characterised by a wide variety of sedimentary rock types formed in a range of different ancient environments from tropical seas through coal swamps to arid deserts, and more recently, cold glacial climates. Of the many different kinds of rock which make up the Mendips, the most important and useful is carboniferous limestone, a hard rock formed from calcium carbonate, full of the fossilised shells and skeletons of ancient sea life.

Carboniferous limestone shows an abundance of crinoid (sea lily) remains, corals (such as rugose) and brachiopods, ancient algae and stromatolites. Rock unconformities give the Mendip area pride of place in geological history. Several excellent hugely contorted fold structures can be seen in Asham Wood Quarry. Volcanic rocks are rare in the Silurian period, and the Mendips are one of the few places in UK where they can be observed.

Large scale quarrying started with the industrial revolution, though the oldest excavations in the Mendips date back to Roman times when the area was an important source of lead and silver. The rate of extraction has accelerated significantly since the 1930’s as the demand for roadstone in particular has increased, for which most limestone quarried locally (about 90%) is now used. All this history is insignificant though, in comparison to the millions of years of geological history exposed in a single quarry face and the 400 million years over which the Mendips have evolved.

The pros and cons of quarrying are ambiguous and controversial, fodder for comment and enquiry. With limestone being used at the rate of 5 tons, (approximately the weight of 1 fully grown elephant), per person per year there is no denying the demand for this material. Things made with limestone are all around us in the modern world. Limestone concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials, it is used in smelting of iron ore, in asphalt, the manufacture of plastic, in make-up and even in our cereal! Today the environmental impacts of quarrying are carefully managed. Plans are made and funds set aside for reclamation or beneficial use of currently active quarries for when they are eventually worked out, but how do such carefully managed schemes compare with the beauty and fascination of recolonisation by wild nature?

Despite this wonderful heritage, the Mendips are rurally isolated with limited engagement with the arts. The ‘step in stone’ event will offer opportunities for all to access the countryside while benefiting from arts/science engagement. The project will also connect with 2015’s environmental milestone of sustainable development goals (SDGs) see http://www.sustainabledevelopment2015.org).

detailofquarry‘Detail of Fairy Cave Quarry’ (2015) © Duncan Simey185million

185million years oil and plaster on board 2012 © Amanda Wallwork

wildlife Nymphidia (detail) 2011 wasp nest, insects, plant roots, hedgehog spine © Tessa Farmer

Project Schedule

Project Schedule

Step in stone lineup from July-October ’15

August – October

  • Art Installations
  • Tours
  • Exhibitions

Halecombe (working quarry, peripheral public pathway); Westdown (massive disused quarry), Chantry

3 – 18 October 2015 (Finale Fortnight)

  • plus Art installations – Fairy Cave (secure disused quarry), Stoke St. Michael
  • Exhibition – Black Swan Arts Centre and Frome Museum

SUMMARY LIST OF EVENTS IN DATE ORDER
For full details of all events see below or click on the links for details of events featuring each artist.

Additional events for groups can be organised to your requirements.

Thur 9 July (afternoon) Guided quarry walk: Moons Hill/SESC with artist Fiona Campbell and SWT grasslands expert
Tue 18 Aug (morning) Workshop: Making Books (Bronwen Bradshaw)
Wed 19 Aug (all day) Ideally combine a guided walk in the morning with the linked ‘Making Books’ workshop in the afternoon with Bronwen Bradshaw. Alternatively either event can be attended separately.
Wed 19 Aug (morning) Guided quarry walk: Westdown/Asham Quarry with artist Bronwen Bradshaw and SWT grasslands expert
Wed 19 Aug (afternoon) Workshop: Making Books (Bronwen Bradshaw)
Thur 20 Aug (all day) Workshop: Site-specific art installations, exploring imagination (Sally Kidall)
Thur 20 Aug (evening) Artist talk: Sally Kidall
Fri 21 Aug (all day) Workshop: Stone carving (Tanya Josham)
Sat 22 Aug (morning) Workshop: Cyanotype and Van-Dyke photographs (Christina White)
Mon 24 Aug (evening) Artist talk: Fiona Campbell
Tue 25 Aug (all day) Workshop: Wet Felting (Suzie Gutteridge)
Tue 25 Aug (afternoon) Guided quarry walk: Halecombe Quarry with artist Tessa Farmer and SWT microscopist
Tue 25 Aug (evening) Artist talk: Tessa Farmer
Wed 26 Aug (all day) Workshop: Perambulatory poetry in the quarry (Ralph Hoyte)
Wed 26 Aug (afternoon) Guided quarry walk: Westdown/Asham Quarry with artist Fiona Campbell and SWT grasslands expert
Fri 2 Oct Step 3 Preview evening, 6 to 8pm Black Swan Arts, Frome – all welcome, no need to book
Sat 3 Oct Step 3 opens at Fairy Cave Quarry, Black Swan Arts and Frome Museum
Tue 6 Oct (morning) Workshop : Wirework – forms inspired by nature (Fiona Campbell)
Sat 10 Oct Family Day, 11am to 6pm Fairy Cave Quarry – no need to book
Sun 11 Oct (morning) Workshop: Drawing, printing and creating clay and plaster relief tiles (Duncan Cameron)
Tue 13 Oct (morning) Workshop: Wet Felting (Suzie Gutteridge)
Tue 13 Oct (late evening) Guided night walk in Fairy Cave Quarry with artist Ralph Hoyte
Wed 14 Oct (evening) Artist talk: Tessa Farmer
Thur 15 Oct (evening) Artist talk: Tessa Farmer
Fri 16 Oct (evening) Artist talk: Ralph Hoyte
Fri 16 Oct Finale Doo, 7 to 9pm SESC – all welcome, no need to book
Sat 17 Oct (all day) Workshop: Perambulatory poetry in the quarry (Ralph Hoyte)
Sat 17 Oct Last opportunity to visit SESC
Sun 18 Oct Last day to visit any venue before artworks will be removed.

To book or to enquire about organising an event for your group please contact:
Fiona Campbell: fionacampbell-art@sky.com or tel: (01749) 880394/07515537224

Contact Us

To find out more about this project please feel free to contact us.

Telephone

Tel: (+44) (01749) 880394
mobile: (+44) (0)7515537224

Email

fionacampbell-art@sky.com
Send Mail
Laundry Cottage, 13 Cooks Lane, West Cranmore, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 4RH

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