The first of the community art installations that I blogged about last year is beginning to near fruition and I was invited along to witness the selection of the source materials.
Discussing rocks with Oliver, Paul and David.
I was invited by Carolyn Gray from the Friends of Grosvenor Park, where this particular installation will be homed, to join the artist Oliver Goodhall in visiting a local quarry to choose the huge slabs of sandstone for the piece.
The piece in question is We Made That's Graffiti Steps. Now, you may remember that I wasn’t too kind about this particular piece. I'll go as far as to admit that I actually said I hated it and gave it zero out of ten. So when I met the artist, Oliver, I was fully prepared with my defensive artistic argument. But it just wasn't needed, he was perfectly polite, rather charming, and never mentioned it. Still, having seen the stones I can see this piece will look impressive but, a big but, I am still not convinced that covering it in graffiti will work.
The design concept. Copyright: We Made That 2011.
Anyway, back to the task in hand, I'm here now so I might as well have fun in finding some big rocks.
We are inside Lamb’s Quarry in the pretty village of West Hoathly. This small site mainly quarries sandstone, even some of our Tunbridge Wells sandstone at that, for use in construction and decorative applications. The site has provided sandstone for homes in Calverley Park amongst others around the area.
After the obligatory but mercifully brief Health and Safety lecture we donned our safety gear and set off into the giant muddy hole in the ground. Thankfully there was no mining happening that day so we could freely wander around hunting for suitable stones. Pretty much straight away one giant slab jumped out at David Scully, not literally of course, as the perfect piece to use as the seating stone (pictured below). David, being TWBC's Landscape and Biodiversity Officer, is well placed to be able to help the artist select the ideal hunk of stone for his artwork. The one David had discovered was covered in natural undulations that would be very tactile and quite comfortable on the posterior.
The artist, Oliver, with the selected seating stone to his left.
The artwork is too large to be able to be quarried in one piece of stone, and also too large to lift into the site in one piece. So to get it into Grosvenor Park the plans for it have been sliced into seven two-tonne sections and each piece will be carefully joined together to make it look like one natural piece.
We spent the best part of an hour climbing amongst the rocks, poking and prodding stones to see if we could find the perfectly-sized pieces required, and I'm pleased to say that it looks like we did. All that needs to happen now is that the stones are shaped, smoothed, and lifted into Grosvenor Park. Well, except that isn't the end of the story.
You may recall that the rocks still need to have their graffiti applied, and that's where you come in. A date will be released soon (stay tuned to our Twitter or Facebook Page) that will enable you to be able to go along and with the help of a master craftsman carve your name or slogan into the rocks. Time will tell if my initial opinion of the piece was justified.
Click here for more photographs of the quarry visit.
Thanks go to Carolyn Gray, David Scully from TWBC, Paul South, and Oliver Goodhall.