ROCK AND ART
The earliest art was created by a primordial hominid species called Homo Naledi. A simple patern of geometric lines etched into a rock wall. They are thought to have been created 250-300,000 years ago. So, it seems the oldest art is in fact graffiti (Latin: meaning scratched).
I am sure you are familiar with cave-art. Evidence suggests we humans have always had the urge to create. We need to make a mark. Those marks may be hand prints in a cavern, graffiti on a bus shelter, digital photography on a computer screen, delicate embroidery on a gown, or oil paintings in an art gallery. Those irresistible impulses to mark our presence are all the same.
I believe the decision to make that first mark on a stone substrate was very deliberate. Rock and stone in human terms are permanent. In reality nothing is permanent. But when measured against the brief lifetime of a person, a megalith or cave wall exists for an inordinately long time. Rock is typically millions of years old. Rock beats paper every time!
Not that early people had much choice! Access to an art shop selling nice rag paper, or oil paints was not an option. I find it fascinating that despite the crude technology, primitive Neolithic art will remain long after the sophisticated art of modern humanity has decayed to dust, or scattered into the virtual ether. With the possible exception of the works of sculptors working with stone and bronze materials. Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were ahead of their time!
The rocks I visit on Bleaklow are often defaced in some way. Those marks may be simple graffiti along the lines of 'Boz was ere 1978', a sort of brut inane script. Or, some stones have been carved by many hands over the passage of time. They have been scratched and carved to add 'eyes' or 'mouths' to further enhance rocks already shaped like an animal. Another very common sight on Bleaklow is the pockmarked indents of lead shot. I suppose at some past time, a game hunter practised his aim by shooting a rock, and in doing so recorded that spontaneous act in stone. They look a lot like the bullet scarred walls seen in post-war Berlin or Beirut.
Rock is an art substrate with unique qualities. Megaliths are gods. Stone is forever magic. Caves are spiritual places of awe; like cathedrals, like forests, and possessing the wisdom of all history. Stone circles, such as Stonehenge and The Ring of Brodgar continue to convey the creator's intention 5,000 years since they were first constructed.
The constituent ingredients found in rock are fundamental minerals. Those minerals are derived from elements that have been recycled and stirred by nature. Sedimentary rocks like Gritstone are composed of particles of other rocks that have long since been eroded to dust. In gritstone individual pebbles of long lost rocks can be clearly made out. Each pebble, and each grain of sand is a clue to our origins.
We make our mark. Maybe to guide the way for others. Maybe it’s an attempt to live forever through a record of having been. Our existence is personal, but artists have a compulsion to express it by any means - somehow.
Rock was a good place to start....
THE DARK PEAK
The Dark Peak is a largely unspoilt area of Northern England. It is the northern sector of The Peak District National Park - designated on 17th April 1951. This was the first such park in the UK.
The Dark Peak is characterised by sedimentary gritstone often seen in exposed outcrops. It is astonishing that this upland area was once the site of a shallow sea. It is thought that carboniferous sea may have reached a depth of several hundred meters. At that time Britain was part of a supercontinent straddling the Earth's equator. More information here.
Humanity has interfered with every inch of the planet. It is quite surprising that wilderness still remains. I'm lucky. I live near such a wilderness. The Dark Peak is precious, not least for the life that lives there, but also because it offers an opportunity for personal insight and discovery.
You may notice that I avoid naming precise geographic places. I prefer to preserve locations for environmental reasons. Neither do I want inexperienced walkers to undertake challenging walks that might put them in harm's way. Mountain rescue are busy enough!
The Dark Peak is listed by Natural England as a site(s) of special scientific interest, or SSSI's.
Link to map of SSSI on Natural England.
Link to map of SSSI on Natural England.
A large part of my interest in the rocks relates to their great age. It fascinates me.
I've tried to work this out. I've come up with theories about time, and studied it. I've listened to scientists talk about time. I'm no closer to understanding. I feel it, but don't understand it.
Don't look back. That was good advice. Always think about now - live for the moment. All good stuff.
I live now. My rocks are here now. I see them, and photograph them now. Perhaps their age is not so important after all.
I don't photograph the rocks to gain public approval. If I don't do what I do, I will have failed in my duty of care. Respect your elders!
The act of producing a photographic image is ubiquitous. We are all familiar with framing the world we see through a camera (or smart phone). Sadly, the verbs we speak are somewhat limited. Words such as 'Take, Capture, and Shoot' are reminiscent of physical force. They're quite horrible. Those verbs contradict the artistic endeavour. There is a search for alternative verbs. Until something better comes along, I prefer the following verbs - 'Find, Produce, Make, Compose, Frame, Render, Expose, or Originate'. Perhaps better new words will arise in the future.
p.s I like 'made by'
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