Forced Landscape, The National Stone Centre, Rachael Champion

I have just finished installing Forced Landscape, a site-specific installation for the Wirksworth Festival, Derbyshire.  The piece is located at the Natonal Stonce Centre and will be here until the end of next years Festival in 2014.

This is Middlepeak quarry and was the inspiration for Forced Landscape.  Middlepeak quarry is a redundant limestone quarry located at the top of Wirksworth.  You could probably fit Wirksworth into this quarry.

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Here is a picture of the hole being dug at the National Stone Centre in early July.  The ground in this area of the Stone Centre in mostly infill from when the site was a productive quarry.  It’s a mixture of soil and small stones.

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Here are pictures in the studio from the final woodworking days.  This is a week and a half before we moved the work up to Derbyshire.

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Notice the lack of space……I had to rig the bottom part of the sculpture onto the ceiling in order to make space to work on the floor.

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I managed to procure another studio for tiling and storing the work.

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This is my fantastic friend Roberto Marcelo Sánchez-Camus who came to help me tile.

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We then had to load the sections of the work onto a flatbed that was really a bit too small for the piece.  We packed carefully…..

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These are my great friends who came to help……Thank you!!!!!

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We then drove the piece up to Derbyshire.  Install on-site began on Monday morning September 2nd.  This is Chris Simpson from JCR Builders, Yorkshire.  We are in-laws of the same family.  He is a star!

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Bottom piece in and leveled….

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By the end of the first day we had the second section attached.

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We started the second day by shoveling earth into Chris’s tipper.  We had a lot of earth to move and our backs ached from the previous day.  I quickly realized how difficult this was going to be and hired a mini digger from Millwards.

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Chris said he liked his new shovel.

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We spent most of the day filling the space around the work.

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By the end of the second day we had the last section on.  It was the first time I saw the whole work together in it’s entirety.

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We all really want it to be a hot tub……..

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The third day we had some more filling in of the hole and then set out to concreting the piece.  We were lucky to have a Stone Centre volunteer named Luke helping us that day.  We even made it in the Derby Evening Telegraph!

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Here is the piece with all of the concrete set in….

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This was my last day with Chris and I was very sad to see him go.  He brought with him a lot of experience, great problem solving, and a wonderful sense of humor.  I look forward to the next time I can get him to come and help me.

My first visitor on Thursday morning….

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I spent the rest of Thursday reinforcing the top layer of the piece with timber posts hammered into the ground (Chris’s idea).  I also began the arduous task of cleaning the off concrete that spilled onto the tiles.  Curator Rose Lejuene came to help in the evening……

On Friday I met with Andy Littler from Longcliffe quarry.  We are going to be in discussion this Sunday for the contemporary public program at the Northern Lights Cinema in Wirksworth.  We had a really interesting discussion.  Andy is a mineral engineer and a geologist.  I thought we were going to be discussing roads but instead we talked about nano particles amongst many other things. I had no idea limestone was so ubiquitous in our lives.
This quarry even has a laboratory inside it.

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Notice the plastic bucket in the right hand corner of the image under my orange bag…..this bucket is filled with calcareous wildflower seeds used in quarry conservation.  Andy has been a part of many quarry conservation projects.  He told me that Britain has some of the best conservation for quarries in the world and pointed out that ex mineral working sites have far more biodiversity than the surrounding arable landscape.  He gave me 2kg of seeds to plant around the site of my sculpture to encourage the ground to recover.  I am really looking forward to our talk next week.

The rest of Friday was spent landscaping the grounds around the sculpture and more tile scrapping.  I was very lucky to have some help.  Featured in this image are Hannah Maybank, Emily Speed, her partner Dan, and myself.  The photographer is Rose Lejeune who also came to help.

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The piece was finished that evening for the opening Festival weekend….

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I look forward to seeing how work integrates into it’s surrounding environment over the next year……

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