More than skin deep
There is so much to learn about this place, how it became and what will it become. Some describe the Essex landscape as a multi-layered cake, I see this landscape in a living anatomical way. When I take my dogs for their daily jaunt around the fields and ex-gravel pits near the village, I take in the landscape, the gentle rolling hills (if you can call them hills), the sound of the wind blowing through the wheat fields and the skylark's birdsong. It sounds nearly idillic, but then I look at the landscape again in a different light, as violated - a disguised mutilation. There are no natural meadows here filled with colourful splashes of wild flowers and the buzzing of honey bees, just acres of farmed land to feed the masses. I see this land peeled of its protective layer of skin, not just an abrasion but a dissection, a scalping. An alopecia like loss of hedges and woodland replaced by a wig of conformed, genetically modified matting. Perhaps this way of thinking relates back to my time as a nurse and strengthened with my recent return to hospital work as a part-time theatre healthcare assistant in the burns and plastics unit at the local hospital. Observing invasive life-saving surgical procedures is very much like the way I see how we operate on the landscape. This is progress, but progress always has its side effects.
The geological history of this site and the identification of the fluvial rocks, would be very difficult without the help I am getting from local retired geologists Ros and Ian Mercer. Their knowledge and passion for the landscape is immense. They have just published to the most incredible book about the geology of Essex Essex Rock by Pelagic Publishing and available in most bookshops, it is extensively illustrated and written so we can all understand it. They also run Essex Rock and Mineral Society, which I have become a member of, I have learnt so much from the talks by visiting specialists, and the organised field trips.
Next week I shall be returning to the local primary school to do a 'dig' with the children. The idea is for them to connect with the riches of the earth, to discover and learn about the objects found and how they can be used to make art. I shall share their creations with you next time along with my quarry anatomical anomalies.
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Sculptor seeking answers from deep time