Image: Graham Thirkill
15th Jaunuary 2012
‘The Old Alum Quarry and Brickyards’
Ravenscar, North Yorkshire
Grid Ref: NZ9601 – NZ9701
All objects and materials were foraged for by the artists.
Documentation is displayed in reverse chronological order.
The Whitaker Brick Company started to produce Ravenscar bricks in 1900 - these were originally to be used in the construction of the proposed new town. The works were on the site of the old Alum quarry and were conveniently situated right next to the railway line providing perfect transportation access. Although the planned building of the resort never materialised, the brickworks did flourish for a while, supplying the bricks for the ‘Northstead’ housing estate and the ‘Odeon Cinema’ in Scarborough. (North York Moors CAM, 2001)
‘Consider stillness as empty time, into which a performance is to be poured.’ (Howell, P. 6, 1999)
This intervention began at dawn and ended before dusk and therefore had a clear marker for the beginning and the end. This was the only structural element set in place to allow for the execution of the intervention. The changes in light throughout the day changed the mood, the work and our interpretation of the landscape. Through combinations of a confined space and a definite durational period, stillness was a key aspect of the intervention. This stillness applied to the apparent static energy of the body in performance, the stilled aesthetic of objects in sculpture and the overwhelming periods of landscape dominance over body.
C. Mollon and G. Thirkill (2012)
Christopher Mollon Statement:
I started by walking the landscape. This included the curvature of the quarry, the circular path of the kilns and the cinder sidings. This was a learning phase and I wanted to ‘shake hands with the place’. This lasted for three hours. Improvised micro actions and interventions occurred in this time. At the end of this period, I found a brick that was quite well in tact and bared the word ‘R A V E N S C A R’. I wanted to echo the sounds and the potential energy of the bricks from when the ‘Brickworks’ was in full production. I marked the found brick, repeatedly and recorded the sound of this marking. I etched the brick. I scratched the word ‘R A V E N S C A R’. I carried the brick. I carried the brick closely to my chest and felt its weight. Weight. I stood with the brick for long periods of time. Wait. I felt its contours and its history. I felt the making process of these bricks through the closeness of contact. My hands became weathered to mirror the bricks. A durational friction between the brick, a fragment of a brick and my hands created a kinesthetic energy. A response. I recorded the sound for one hour. Brick particles were collected and dusted onto my body. I walked with the brick for one hour in a circular motion with the recorded sound of the brick being etched playing throughout. Upon the approach of dusk, the brick and the fragment of brick were left amongst other bricks that I did not come into contact with via the touch of my hands.
C. Mollon (2012)
Graham Thirkill Statement:
Survey. Scan. Forage. Search. These actions began with the rising of the sun but remained as ongoing as the frost on the ground. The bricks on the ground and in bushes and trees provided a great foundation for my sculpture during RIG #2. These artificial items combined almost naturally with the flora of the quarry and allowed my sculpture to be formed. Looking back on it now, it creates a wonderful sense of how man and nature combined within the quarry to create a now, at least in that area, forgotten industry. That describes my work in the area well, I worked with artistic and imaginative industry in a once industrial area. The stacking of the bricks, which was my first venture, on top of a sawn-off tree stump was my footing in the area, a somewhat “small step” on to this landscape which I had previously only glanced at and admired. To relocate things, and to arrange things in the area certified my time spent there, and it felt like I was planting my flag. The “brick and branch” tree was a fun way of installing something I was surrounded by, bricks and obviously more numerously, trees. The dark gravel the tree was installed on provided an interesting “roughness” of canvas that I later let sift through my fingers onto a grassy path. The circle of stones and triangle of brown vegetation was a way of creating shape in a shapeless space. Regularity in a space full of irregularity. I experienced a “blank” somewhat in the latter stages, where my energy dropped and I required a new inspiration, which I found by building a “chimney” of bricks near the entrance to the quarry which sealed a day of great creativity.
G. Thirkill (2012)
 (Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides, 2001)