PhD Research

Stitch-split sequence

PhD in Cultural Geography, University of Exeter, 2015:

The quarry as sculpture: the place of making


Practices of sculpture and geography have collaborated ever since Stone Age humans hoisted up rocks to point them into the air. The ephemerality of life was rendered in a circle of forms and mass that celebrated the union of sky, earth and dwelling. Through the manipulation of stone, the land became a place, it became a home, it became situated and navigable. As millennia unfolded, the land was written with the story of itself. The creativity woven into the story of place is an evolution of material collaborations. In recent decades, academic geographers have explored the realms of creativity in their work, and sculptors have critically engaged with the nature of place. I have united these disciplines in the exploration of a truth of materials. The aim of the research was to investigate the relationship between making and place. The structure of my PhD focussed on the development of a transdisciplinary research environment that could host a range of creative practices around stone-working. I developed a long-term relationship with Trenoweth Dimension Granite Quarry, working as an apprentice sawman and mason. Here, I examined the everyday practices of labour and skill development, from which emerged deeper material and human interactions, that went on to inform my sculpture and modes of making. Arguing that granite has threads of relational agency embedded within its matrix, I initiated a series of practices that made use of my emerging knowledge as a granite-quarry worker cast within experimental sculpture, texts, performance, photography and film. By formulating my methods around the vibrancy of matter, I disclosed new materialisms and more-than-human relations. This assemblage of documentation and artwork records and reflects on a series of practices and processes in tension. This productive tension arises from a re-rendering of artisanal practice as a research method; ushering in modes of representation as loops of experience and interpretation take place across different sites, spaces and times of mediation. The objective for the PhD research was to present a critically informed practice of sculpture-as-ethnography that could not only provide a model for practice-based research in general, but also significantly expand what might be meant by stone-work.

Follow the link to my PhD Digital Archive:

The quarry as sculpture: the place of making