Friday, 1 June 2012


To dwell in vast open spaces and interact with the materials these spaces provide allowed me to become physically engaged with the environment i encountered. The harshness of the changing weather created a real and palpable connection to the elements. Though drawing with stone and charcoal in windy and cold conditions was sometimes painful on my hands it highlighted the physicality of the materials. It generated a real and physical response a sense of consciousness of being alive, belonging, being in the right place at the right time. 
These experiences are important, they justify the need for us as individuals to engage with the real as opposed to the hyper real we thirst for in today's society.
Although dwelling within these landscapes as a sole individual has a sense anticipation, by being and interacting with a place i become part of it; i belong there.
If we are to rely on the hyper world as a way of communication how are we able to respond to each other and the environment we inhabit if we constantly find ourselves glued to a flat digital screen and keyboard?
There will one day be a society that has never known life before the Internet and digital medium. Imagine a society that relies on a mouse and flat screen to draw or a blog or Facebook to communicate and express themselves, how will we be able to generate responses from each other and the environment then?

An extract from the essay 'Are Physicality and the Interaction of society lost through Technology?'
By Carol Sowden

For example take the networking site Facebook. This ‘social’ site exploits our need to belong and entices us into believing that as individuals the site is the place we should socialise and keep in touch. Socializing in what sense? Are the people you class as your friends not the people you see on a regular basis? Networking sites such as Facebook influence today’s society into believing that if you want to belong then you’ve got to get with it. The Internet is a medium that distorts the definition of socialising, generating a false sense of belonging. How are we to discover who we are as individuals if we do not connect in a physical way with society and the world around us? (Amin A, 2011) Henri Lefebvre’s recollection of Paris in bygone days may seem a distant unrelated example, but it demonstrates the importance of basic physical interaction between individuals; ‘There was unquestionably certain narrowness in this everyday life; distant things, foreigners, the global horizon went unremarked. Gesture, social customs, rituals of courtesy and urbanity, the way in which women were addressed, the courteousness which concealed a slight disdain, the manner of greeting people-raising one’s hat-all this remained traditional, and might seem antiquated. But what a sense of security!’ (pg. 8) These small but significant physical gestures of recognition allow individuals to feel a sense of worth; they are acknowledgements that endorse a genuine presence within society.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Horticap Beckwithshaw

These bolders are situated in a small area of the land at Horticap. Not easily accessible they are nestled in a part of the site not usually encountered. I use circular movements with the mark maker to create patterns on the stone. The stone is very hard and does not flake or break like the sandstone used at Brimham and Almias. The mark maker to my surprise generates a strong smell of an ancient organic petrol like odour! I am unsure why; is it because the stone contains materials from another time?!!!

Return to Almias

I return once more to Almias Cliff. There is a real pull for me to this place; a short distance to travel to but feels like being in another world! It is 6am best time of the day. The sun is just rising and frozen snow still remains on the ground from a few days ago. It is freezing literally!!

I continue to mark make with the sandstone. The rough texture of the stone is more heightened by the freezing temperature. It hurts my hand to draw. This physicality is raw and bring me closer to the environment and its materiality.

I find some charcoaled wood from a fire once lit secretly round the back of the rock! An alternative mark making tool that forms a contrast to the lighter tones of sandstone. This material feels smooth and so much more fluid than the coarse sandstone. It leaves dark dramatic marks. 

Monday, 9 April 2012


I return to Scarr Reservoir. As well as enjoying this vast open space I return to collect stones previously left after releasing from their moss encasing.  There is again that anticipation of whether the stones still remain where I left them. It reminds me of returning to the site of a den or damn created as a child; wondering if it is still there or has someone or something destroyed it!

They still remain untouched by human or animal. In the short time they have nestled in there new location they have left an imprint of their presence.

I Introduce knitted monofilament wire previously created within the studio environment. Its presence amongst the stones generates an alien entity.  This material appropriates hyper-reality in many respects. Its synthetic nature a metaphor for all things digital, it’s bound and knitted form reminiscent of the WWW; societies need to connect with each other.

The surreal ethereal like aesthetic this material radiates when exposed to direct sunlight has such a beautiful quality which offers an interesting contrast with the raw organic materiality of the stone and the rural environment. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012


Returning to Almais Cliff I feel apprehensive and wonder if the marks I have made in the past are still there. They still remain but only very faintly. The wind is strong and the shelter of the Cliff allows me the chance to draw again.

The resistance of stone on stone is such a real and palpable process and truly embraces the physical act of mark making and the mark of physical presence.

Walking to the front of the cliff the full force of the wind attacks me. It becomes difficult to draw in these conditions, but exhilarating all the same!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Outcrop of Rocks near Brimham Rocks

I embark on these rocks near the larger sandstone formations at Brimham Rocks. In the heart of moorland the atmosphere is fabulous quiet serene and only the sound of the curlews and pheasants on the moor. I feel like I am in ‘Wuthering Heights’!!!

The sandstone once again gives me the opportunity to make some really good marks. The stone is so abrasive and textured it is easy to draw and realize a physical presence. It crumbles easy and there is not much loose stone to actually mark make; the elements have done their work on the structures and it has all crumbled loose into the land.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Swinsty Reservoir

I encountered Swinsty Reservoir today. It was calm, serene and you could almost hear a pin drop! Decided to do the 4mile walk around the reservoir.After my crit yesterday I have decided to simplify the mark making processes within the landscape.

Stone as a material features heavily within the Yorkshire landscape. As well as the industrial features of dams, reservoirs and mines, dry stone walls are a core part of the Dales landscape.

Because of the rough texture of the stone and its capability to realize drawing marks on its surface I will continue with the process of drawing with stone on stone.

I will then remove the stones to generate cavities where they once were. These cavities will remain as my integration with the space and I will transport the stones removed back to the studio space. 

Introducing a process formulated within the studio. Fishing wire hand knitted on willow needles. I am exploring aspects of binding and weaving, appropriating the grounding and rooting of humanity to the landscape and the physical world.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Scar House Reservoir, Upper Nidderdale

I journey to Scar House Reservoir today,the roads are windy and full of pot holes but it’s worth the trip.The damn was built in 1936 and took
15 years to complete. A small village was built on site  to house the workers and their families as it was cheaper to accommodate them on site being so far out in the dales. There are still remnants of the buildings as you drive down the long road to get to the damn itself.

It is a real mix of weather sunshine, light wind and low cloud over the hills.  Atmospheric to say the least!
     The landscape is barren and the only textured marks are the dry stone walls that cut through and separate the sweeping hills. There are no trees which limits the amount of natural debris on the ground.

            I notice that the stone debris from dry stone walls and foundations left from by gone buildings are encased in sphagnem moss. The environment is perfect for the growth of this moss it thrives on boggy water based land. The rain that runs off the hills is ideal for its survival and prevalence. The texture of the moss is spongy and its low growing habit and shallow roots make it easy to tear from the ground. It is gorgeous matter to hold in your hands! The encasing aspect interests me. Once the moss has grown over mounds of stone it is then no longer viewed, it is enveloped into the land, only a round form is visible.

I realize that the encased stones can be lifted out of the ground leaving a hollow imprint generated from the moss itself. These hollow forms are left where the stones once were, a remnant of their presence. My intervention has planted my own presence within this particular landscape. These cavities appear as a dark fixture against the green environment and visually appear like footprints.