Step in Stone is the title of an art project I am involved in this year, taking the limestone quarries on the Mendips as inspiration. Here is the description of the project from the website:
“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, will create a series of site-specific, temporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the nature of quarries and their 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.”
It has been extraordinary to discover these vast hidden places so near to home, with their instant geology lessons and strange flora: bright green moss being one of the most striking. I’ve been to the Fairy Cave quarry a couple of times: this is a disused quarry not normally accessible to the public, though during Somerset Art Weeks this year, the public will be invited in to see the Art trail created by Step in Stone artists. The echo there is extraordinary: you can conduct a conversation with someone right over the other side without raising your voice. Birds were the only creatures I saw there, and the vegetation is largely spindly birch trees and buddleia: in other words, anything that can get a grip in an almost soil free environment.
And here is an etching I made: ‘Rim” – actually I was halfway through making it, but after the first quarry experience I took a bandsaw to it and made a cut. Like what happens in quarries.
By the way, the name Fairy Cave Quarry comes from one of the caves accessible – through an alarmingly small cleft in the rock – from this quarry: the Fairy Cave, with fabulous stalactites and stalagmites, and, I think someone said, once a food store for the Abbot at Glastonbury. They were everywhere, those monks.