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.    

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Almias Cliff

Today I spent some time at Almias Cliff; a small outcrop of rocks which are perched within the landscape and have far reaching views across landscape facing Nidderdale. Although a milder day when up on this exposed area the wind was strong and it felt a lot colder! Its good to be outside! The far reaching views highlight very much the mark of humanity:

Wind farm Knabs Ridge

Menwith Hill Listening Station

Ten Acre Reservoir

Pine Forests

Some of these structures on the landscape have been viewed as a negative intrusion. The scale of this wide reaching environment is so huge that really the golf balls (as the satellite dishes are know as in the area!) and the wind turbines add a character the views, a contrast against the organic landscape. They are however huge when up close to the structures. The wind turbines have an immense aura of power yet they appear graceful and a part of the natural flow of the elements. The satellite golf balls appear alien in comparison. There is also the undercurrent of the actual reason they are there, who and what are they actually listening in on?!!

Stile to Cliff


Cold and very windy the rocks offer shelter from one side and invigoration from the other!

The rock is sandstone and easy to manipulate allowing modern day graffitti to be made. We all need to make our physical mark in some form or another. I wonder who Naomi was?


It is now my turn to make a mark! There were hollowed out textures within the rock itself. They are too perfect in symmetry not be manmade, but compared to the modern day graffiti the marks are obviously of some age, smooth in texture having been worn down by the elements. How long ago did man make these marks? Using a piece of sandstone debris I drew within these forms; shading and following the rounded curve of the recesses.  How strange it is to be making these marks on top of manmade marks from a far distant past! The content of the sandstone is lighter than the weathered surround producing the natural tone of the main element at its core; sand. It felt a natural process and not in any way an intrusion on the cliff itself, organic matter against organic matter.


As part of research for the Final Major Project of my Art & Design Interdisciplinary Degree at Leeds College of Art I will be focusing on the concept of inhabiting vast rural spaces and the marks made as a result of my physical presence. 
Throughout my degree I have consistently felt restricted within a studio environment. The confines of an artificial environment such as the studio space has affected the proportions of my work. For me being hemmed in generates feelings of frustration; the need to get out and experience the natural elements be it sun, rain, snow, wind is an intense desire.These aspects combined with the ethos of being connected to the land and the experience of feeling rooted and belonging within the world itself  will form the basis of my research. I plan to drive to certain areas of Nidderdale and spend time within rural locations walking, inhabiting, dwelling and physically making my mark on the spaces I occupy.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

       “It is the interaction between man and nature which alone can make the full man at one in his middle status between God and the living dust of the earth. There is a kind of music in the order of the universe which penetrates man by and through the earth…In losing touch with the organic processes of the earth man is fouling the sources of his own being.” (Massingham H J, 1941 cited in Matless D, pg. 105, 1998)