Private View. Marking Time: Geology 2

Image Credit: Alison Jacobs

Contains Art, East Quay, Watchet, Somerset, TA23 0AQ

[email protected]

Wednesday 20 July 2016
6 - 8pm
Opening Hours: 6 - 8pm

‘The Geology Project’

One of Contains Art’s aims is to support local creatives to develop professionally. The ‘Marking Time’ exhibition is the culmination of a 2-year creative development project in which six local artists have set out to move their practices forward through facilitated group work and collaborative research. Funding from the Golsoncott Foundation has enabled the group to engage professional support, attend courses for their individual development, cover expenses of study visits and meet some materials and exhibition costs.

The group has taken the distinctive coast around Watchet as its focus. Recent initiatives to explore Watchet’s character and develop its potential offer for tourism have determined that the dramatic rock formations and abundant fossils on our beaches are aspects of our town that locals have always valued as part of Watchet’s unique identity.  The coast is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which has long interested geologists.  These factors suggested a theme which could be explored at many levels and would engage local interest. The project became known as ‘The Geology Project’.

An exhibition ‘Triassic: Jurassic’ in the Contains Art Gallery during May-June 2015 presented initial responses to the landscape of the coast from Doniford to Blue Anchor. The artists were readily inspired by the colours, patterns and outlines that make the coast a visual feast.  At that time ‘The Geology Group’ were just beginning to appreciate the significant points of interest that this section of shoreline has for geologists. During the 2015 exhibition local geologist Andy King gave a talk which emphasised the vast timescales involved in the formation of the landscape. He explained the importance to geologists of different species of ammonite fossils as evolutionary markers of the time in which the Jurassic rock strata seen on the shoreline around Watchet was formed.

Since spring 2015 the artists have met regularly, braving the mud and tides to explore the full extent of the beaches, visiting exhibitions to discover how other artists have approached similar subject matter, learning more about the processes that formed the Watchet coastline and generally sharing and developing ideas together.

In this second exhibition the group is presenting all new work, alongside some of the underlying research, creative experiments and objects gathered, assembled over the last year. Each artist presents their very individual response to the landscape and the deeper themes that the project has opened up for them. Lucy Lean’s pendulum, hand-spun from local wool, references timescales, both vast, geological ‘deep time’ and human industrial evolution, connected in the land. Andy Davey’s layered paintings explore the variety of pattern and texture exposed by the passage of time and erosion,  counterposed with the mark-making conventions of geological maps, whilst Sue Lowe’s 10m length of printed banner is an interpretation of the 200+ individual layers that geologists have represented in studies of the stratigraphy of the shoreline. In Alison Jacobs’ contribution over 1,000 ammonites, made from folded geological notes and papers, cascade from a display case. Angela Wood’s canvases, painted with mud and silt from the beaches, convey a sublime sense of the earth movements that have created this fascinating landscape.

Overall the exhibition invites its audience to reflect on the enormous forces and aeons of time that have marked out the unique beauty of this coastline and how we assimilate that with the short impact of human existence. Those familiar with the landscape will find new viewpoints to consider. Coinciding with the opening of Watchet’s new Visitor Centre the exhibition also offers food for thought about ‘fossil tourism’, how Watchet might best make this these treasures known and accessible whilst encouraging the understanding and respect that they deserve.  

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