STEP IN STONE -  ART IN QUARRIES

An exciting new major Art in Quarries project is coming to the East Mendips in 2015, with Stoke St. Michael and Chantry featuring prominently in the Trail.  Somerset Earth Science Centre (next to Moons Hill Quarry) will be one of the indoor exhibition venues and local sculptors Duncan Elliott and Fiona Campbell are two of the artists involved.  Fundraising is currently ongoing for the project, with a crowd funding campaign running on IdeasTap, which includes a short film to illustrate the project.  Any support for the project would be much appreciated via this external link: http://www.ideastap.com/crowdfunding/project/stepinstone

WHAT: 

step in stone will be a collaborative, multi-stranded art trail around 3-4 disused and working quarries in the East Mendips to illuminate these spectacular, hidden landscapes and explore Somerset’s heritage and beauty.  The artists will develop and create a series of research-led site-specific temporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the nature of quarries. 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.  

A free event to the public, the quarry art trail will encompass natural history, ecology and geology.  Through partnerships with Somerset Art Works, Mendip AONB and Somerset Wildlife Trust we will inspire and engage the wider community via guided tours, talks and family workshops with contributing artists and linked exhibitions in the Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome and Somerset Earth Science Centre, near Shepton Mallet.

WHY:

Quarries are a huge part of Somerset's industrial past and present. Limestone concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials in the world.  Steeped in controversy, mystery and bio-diversity, many quarries 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 industrial machinery - fossils of an ancient era.  The pros and cons of quarrying are ambiguous and controversial, fodder for comment and enquiry.  The drama and grandeur of these largely concealed landscapes, which provide an extraordinary backdrop for experiencing art, will be revealed, offering visitors moments of insight and wonder.

step in stone curator and artist Fiona Campbell discovered disused quarries through exploratory dog walks. Fascinated by them, she also found them a useful source of discarded scrap metal for her sculptural work.  After 3 years of investigation, Fiona has brought together groups of like-minded passionate artists, scientists and educators for the project.

There are limited arts activities in rural East Mendip.  We want as broad an audience as possible to appreciate fresh, contemporary art in inspiring settings.  At the same time we want to encourage more people to explore the natural, cultural and industrial heritage of Somerset.  As well as leaflets, worksheets, blog & soundcloud we will produce a quality step in stone catalogue & documentary film, creating a lasting legacy.

WHO:

The team includes leading local, regional and international artists, invited and selected with the assistance of Somerset Art Works and Black Swan Arts Centre.  Fiona Campbell, with help from Amanda Wallwork (Sherborne House Arts Director & co-curator of exlab & B-side Fest, Dorset) and Zoe Li (SAW & Arts Council manager) will curate the project.  Somerset Earth Science Centre and Black Swan Arts Centre will host related exhibitions. Other parties such as Somerset Wildlife TrustMendip AONB and Ruth Worsley (Education coordinator, Quarry Faces) will be involved in public engagement and we have so far acquired plenty of public support. step in stone offers new opportunities for cross-fertilisation, challenges and development of practice for featured artists and an opportunity for fresh collaboration between artists, host bodies, local communities and educational groups. Drawn from as far away as Australia, all artists have a connection with the South West of England, most being based there. 



WHEN:

Planned for July–Oct '15, the finale will tie in with Somerset Art Weeks Festival '15 and a related exhibition at Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome (3-18 Oct).  An accompanying exhibition at Somerset Earth Science Centre will be held from July-October to include Christina White’s impressive quarry photographs..

Workshops in July, August and October ’15 at Somerset Earth Science Centre will link with SAW’s InspirED delivery to schools, as well as the wider community. 

WHERE:

Halecombe (working quarry – confirmed use by La Farge Tarmac) has a peripheral circular public pathway overlooking the quarry.  Westdown (disused quarry – agreed by Hansons) is massive, dramatic, with a long pathway and stream leading to Asham Woods (SSSI).  It was used as a backdrop for filming Dr WhoMoon’s Hill (working quarry – Wainwrights) is next to Somerset Earth Science Centre.  We hope to site a large sculpture at the main entrance, as a beacon.  Fairy Cave (disused quarry - confirmed use for finale fortnight during Somerset Arts Festival '15) has stunning limestone rock formations and caves.  All quarries are in close proximity to SESC, Stoke St Michael and not far from Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome.