the other end of a seam

five go to hawkridge woods 19813

As part of continuing research for the upcoming exhibition at White Moose Gallery in Barnstaple, I accompanied four other artists to Hawkridge Woods on the River Taw for a day of experimentation, conversation and play with the locally significant earth pigment Bideford Black. The woods lie at the easternmost end of seams of pigment and coal that run across the region, or at least the end of their known extent. Some time in the last 200 years the woods were the site of a mine extracting anthracite that runs alongside the paint seam, evidence of which may be seen by the adit, or drainage tunnel, near the river banks. Paths and banks in the woods reveal similar geology to that on the coast near the Greencliff paint seam but we have as yet to discover any pigment in the soil of the woods. We therefore took our own, along with other materials and used whatever was at hand to respond to both the materials and the environment. The images that follow show some of my own experiments with the group from the day.

BB 5 artists, hawkridge woods; me looking in the mine adit (griz luttman-johnson 2013); map of BB seams (courtesy f vowler) BB 5 artists, hawkridge woods; me looking in the mine adit (griz luttman-johnson 2013); map of BB seams (courtesy f vowler)

Having made an exploratory visit to the site alongside the beautiful River Taw, which runs north from Dartmoor to its estuary mouth in Barnstaple Bay, and found the mine adit, I had determined to work with materials found along the paths that run through the woods. My actions have been greatly influenced by working with printmakers and by the incidental results of such processes. While initial experiments often didn’t quite work out they did lead onto other ideas contributing to group ideas. It is often simply having the confidence to act that leads to spontaneous creative work and the experience to appreciate and reflect upon the results that lead the way to further and more informed possibilities, so just do it and be ready to enjoy the process…

pathway print; painted shale shards; making shard print 2 (p ward:m chesterman 2013) pathway print; painted shale shards; making shard print 2 (p ward/m chesterman 2013)

shard print 2 (p ward:m chesterman 2013) shard print 2 (bideford black, p ward/m chesterman 2013)

shard prints (m chesterman:p ward 2013); BB puddle on river soaked canvas square (s plummer:g luttman-johnson:j westcott 2013) shard prints (m chesterman/p ward 2013); BB puddle on river soaked canvas square (s plummer/g luttman-johnson/p ward/j westcott 2013) 

black bundle of sticks; river tree; river flow (bideford black, p ward 2013) black bundle of sticks; river tree; river flow (bideford black, p ward 2013)

pathway circle (bideford black, p ward 2013) pathway circle (bideford black, p ward 2013)

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with such a diverse and accomplished group of artists, providing exciting and inspiring material and possibilities for future projects and collaborations, so many thanks to Merlyn Chesterman, Griz Luttman-Johnson, Sue Plummer and Judith Westcott. We are now looking forward to bringing our work together for the show. To accompany the exhibition I will be leading a public presentation and discussion about the project on Wednesday 11th September at the White Moose for North Devon Arts[i]. And many thanks to Stella and Julie at White Moose for their enthusiasm and support, and for providing a great space for the project and exhibition[ii].

P Ward 2013


[i] http://www.whitemoose.co.uk/site/events-at-white-moose-gallery-north-devon/

[ii] The exhibition runs from 6th September to 3rd October at the White Moose Gallery, Trinity Street, Barnstaple, and is open 11-7 Monday to Saturday (http://www.whitemoose.co.uk/).

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2 Comments on “the other end of a seam”

  1. Celia Wilson says:

    Fascinating, an extension of wayfaring; the shard prints also remind me of cotton coal loading shutes that I saw on RRS Discovery at Dundee last year – the coal leaving patterns on the cotton. I will put a photo on my blog…


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