Age of Crinoids

step in stone continues to absorb me – not only in my role as curator and manager of the project, but also as a featured artist – taking most of my time and thoughts.

Delving further into the quarries theme for the project, I’ve discovered that the earlier part of the Carboniferous period (Mississipian) has been coined the Age of Crinoids.  Over 350 million years ago the Mendips were submerged under a warm, swampy sea, the Mendip Hills hadn’t yet formed into a range of mountains – now substantially eroded back –  and animal life comprised mainly of primitive reptiles, giant insects like dragonflies the size of seagulls, and a myriad of sea creatures such as echinoderms and corals.  Crinoids (sea lilies) were abundant in thousands of varieties, showing huge morphological diversity.  These fascinating ancient creatures look like exotic plant forms and many varieties still exist today.  They cling to the bottom of the sea bed by long spiny stems, others are unstalked, have tentacle legs or long arms which enable them to drag themeselves along.

Crinoid fossil

Fossils found in limestone rocks exposed in the quarries (often in now vertical old sea beds) brings into question our origin, distant past and future.  Captivated, I have been imagining these other worlds.  Following on from my post on convergent evolution, my work will focus on these and other similar forms as visual metaphors of complex primal systems in nature, universal forms which echo others, examples of fractal geometry and the interconnectedness of all things.

Each time I visit the quarries, often on dog walks, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they represent – the geology; how far back time goes; what extraordinary life forms exist now and in the past; how incredible and persistent nature is; how we are all linked; how insignificant we are as individuals, yet how we impact on our surroundings…

Quarry at Stoke St. Michael

Representing step in stone, I launched an under 20 year olds’ Sculpture Design Competition at Somerset Earth Science Centre a fortnight ago, and alongside other step in stone artists and Juliet Lawn from SESC, gave a slideshow/talk, with work on display to give young visitors inspiration for their designs.  This competition is now online for entries at: Black Swan Arts.  Last week Nick Weaver and I set up a stand for step in stone at Frome Town Councils’s AGM.  Having been funded by them we were asked to present our project to attendees.  It was a full house – the energy in Frome seems infectious!  This Wednesday (8th April) I’ll be taking part as a speaker in a public discussion at Wells Museum about Public Art (7.30pm if you’re interested in coming!)

I ran a wire workshop at the end of March via ArtsLink, which resulted in some great outcomes by participants.  I have more workshops coming up and will also be running some during step in stone at SESC and Black Swan Arts (details of these will be posted soon).

Wire workshop IMG_9931 IMG_9932 IMG_9934 IMG_9935 IMG_9939 IMG_9940 IMG_9941

Although there’s still a lot to do, I’m looking forward to my forthcoming exhibitions this summer.  Maureen Michaelson is representing me at GROW London and Hidden Garden Art Show this June and my biggest project to date step in stone starts in July.

Spring in my Step

Hello to budding spring!  (I guess there is a spring in my step, though sometimes I feel like my feet are dragging – especially early mornings).

A few updates about events you might be interested in.  My Art in Quarries project ‘step in stone’ is progressing well, having achieved a fantastic result through generous donors via crowdfunding on Ideas Tap and more recently a successful Arts Council England/National Lottery application. Heavily involved in bringing it to fruition, I am trying to reserve slices of time to make art. We have a new step in stone website, in addition to our facebook and twitter pages, so do please visit, follow and share. The best bit of the project is working with artists and other experts I admire.  I’ve been getting increasingly inspired by the history, geology and nature of the quarries, with new sources of information from scientists such as Gill Odolphie from Somerset Earth Science Centre and friend Nick Weaver.  I hope you’ll be able to visit the project this summer.

Fairy Cave Quarry

Part of the step in stone project will involve a young Sculpture Design Competition, kindly hosted by Black Swan Arts online from 1st April – 18th May. The winner will create their design as a full-scale sculpture to feature in our Trail, and all entries will be shown at the Black Swan, so any under 20 year old budding artists you know might like to have a go: http://www.blackswan.org.uk/sculpturedesign2015. Somerset Earth Science Centre (BA3 5JU) are hosting a Launch for us to explain more about this on Monday 23 March, 6-8pm. Come along if interested!

Sculpture Design Competition Poster

I feel honoured to have recently been elected onto the Black Swan board as a trustee and hope I can do the role justice in time. I love the Black Swan, it continues to provide excellent quality Arts in the South West, despite it’s huge crash in Council funding a few years ago. I hope it will gain further funding to be the best it can.

Nest 1 - final idea for Sunflow radiatorIdeas for Nest radiator

A radiator company, Sunflow Ltd, commissioned me to produce a 3-d sculptural piece for their new line of interesting Arty Radiators earlier this year. A challenging concept, I created an organic piece (no surprises there) involving copper piping and a woven nest on a layered backing of cut out metal, which we then sprayed (see design left and link above). These radiators are unusual – beautifully engineered, slim and very low heat. Mine is a prototype, so further one-off versions can be commissioned from me via Sunflow.

This June I will be featuring in the GROW London Fair, Hampstead Heath, London (18-21 June) represented by Gallerist Maureen Michaelson. My work will also be on exhibition at the Hidden Garden Art Show, Hampstead, London NW3 from 6-28 June and ArtParks International Exhibition, Sausmarez Rd, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6SG.

Workshops and teaching continue to keep me connected with surrounding schools and the community. I’m looking forward to some great projects ahead with students, making large insects, birds and a dragon.

Spring - Wire work class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

step in stone

step in stone is a project I’m organising, which will form a collaborative holistic, multi-stranded Art Trail around 2-4 disused/working quarries in the East Mendips to illuminate these hidden landscapes and explore Somerset’s heritage and beauty.  Steeped in history and controversy, many repossessed by wildlife, the quarries will provide a fresh, dramatic environment in which to show distinctive art.  So far, confirmed quarries are Westdown, Halecombe and Fairy Cave, with another possible.

Drawn from a range of disciplines, 15 invited/selected local and international artists:  ArtmusicCath Bloomfield, Bronwyn Bradshaw, Duncan CameronDuncan ElliottTessa Farmer, Stuart Frost, Suzie GutteridgeRalph Hoyte, Sally KidallCaroline Sharp, Amanda WallworkChristina White and I will create challenging, contemporary artworks for a curated trail in response to the subject.  The project offers important new opportunities and development of practice for the artists, introducing a curatorial role for me and focusing on public engagement.  In collaboration with Somerset Earth Science Centre, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Art Works and Black Swan Arts Centre there will be dedicatedworkshops, exhibitions, tours and talks to involve a wide audience.

Planned to run from July – October ’15, with the finale tying in with Somerset Art Works Festival and a related exhibition at Black Swan Arts Centre, Frome (3-18 October) the event will also hold an accompanying exhibition at Somerset Earth Science Centre, to include Christina’s impressive quarry photographs.  Workshops during one week in July ’15 at Somerset Earth Science Centre will link with SAW’s InspirED offers with schools, as well as the wider community.

The aim is to involve school children, families, walkers, art and culture enthusiasts, nature lovers, research students and tourists wishing to explore the countryside, seeking a different experience.  A catalogue and film would document the event, creating a lasting legacy.

The next big step is to apply for funding.  The success of the project is reliant on this, together with local support.  So, I’m avidly applying for financial backing and seeking sponsorship, (which would result in the organisation’s logo being attached to all publicity/marketing material, together with mutual benefits).  A crowdfunding bid will soon go live on IdeasTap.  Watch this space and do please let me know if you feel you can support this project in any way.

 Anyway, it’s keeping me busy!   Here is a link if you’d like to know more.
Photographs below by Christina White
Westdown Photograph by Christina WhiteWestdown Quarry - photograph by Christina White