My work indicates a personal journey into the landscape of the Mendip Hills which are situated to the south of Bristol and Bath, running east to west from Frome to Weston-Super-Mare, and to the south are the Somerset Levels. Natural resources have been exploited over many centuries, principally lead, iron, coal and limestone. West Mendip was the predominant open pit lead mining district in England. Within six years of the Roman occupation of Britain in 43AD, they were excavating and smelting lead on Mendip.
This is where I have settled, and it is the consequence of exerting walks that I am making a systematic exploration of the post industrial landscape, revealing historical traces of mining, smelting and quarrying industries.
I have gathered archaeological details and imprints from the Romans to the end of the 19th century, in lead mining and ironworks, showcasing the remains like displays in a museum cabinet. This has taken the form of handcrafted books, each representing a separate geographical area, and prints which manifest the span of history and methods of extraction.
I am currently absorbed with the nationally important quarrying industry, tracing historical detail by exploring the Mendips hills hundreds of disused quarries which span their entire length east to west. Geologically, it is one of the most diverse regions, history is revealed everyday in working quarries, uncovering formations spanning some 300 million years.
“There are no limits to what the eye can imagine and dream” (*), I use multiple exposures in camera and in post processing to create images which reveal the different layers of history together with the narrative of the industrial past. In a landscape of bronze age barrow cemeteries, swallets and the ‘Priddy Circles’, memories of ritual and myth are signified by the faint and vague horizons, which create a feeling of the sublime. This in turn mythologizes the landscape whose mineral riches have been excavated by sometimes violent means, indicated by the visible scars born by this human activity. The act of creating each picture taps into my conscious feeling for the liminality of the landscape and, supported by the visible archaeology, has been inspired by 19th century photographers.
(*) Jérôme Tisné – Marée Basse