Thursday, 14 June 2012

Cromford Post - The one that got away- 22nd May

A fantastically frantic couple of weeks. Not had time to write it down until now. So here its is!
First off were workshops with PT Foundation A&D students. Ros Westward talking about the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Enlightenment Collection of artworks and objects; excitedly meeting to explore Katherine's chiming artwork; exploring Cromford, the canal and its mills; and finally meeting to see what had been generated. Bells figured strongly, inspired by Katherine's piece and the bell at Cromford used to summon workers. The mill is seen by many as the forerunner of factory manufacture, so the bell's first chime marked the shift from labour on the land to labour in the factory. Working time was no longer to be measured by the length of a day and the seasons of a year but by the hours of a mechanical clock.

First Cromford Mill Bell

Cromford Wharf

Student Responses

Also started was Sound Track. Inspired by Richard Long's Walking Music, a list of songs carried in his head while walking in Ireland, a group of intrepid students quizzed Bank Holiday walkers about the music they sang in their heads while walking the Cromford Canal. Everything was fine till the rain came, shortly before lunch. So we'll return next Bank Holiday to finish the piece.

Flying the flag at Cromford

The next weekend saw Night Vision, an overnight walk from Langley Mill to Cromford. Despite incredible work by Friends of Cromford Canal to restore sections of this old waterway, much is lost or ruined. Night Vision was a redrawing of the canal across the landscape by light. An incredible site as a centipede of 13 walkers, led by Alison Lloyd, marched along 15 miles of the old canal tow path. I'm keeping hold of the images - I think you might see them later. But here's a taster of the walkers as they steamed past Whatstandwell station …

Steaming past Whatstandwell Station

And finally, for now, Stone's Throw to be revealed on Monday.  The students were so taken with Katherine's chimes, especially when coupled with the Cromford bell, I took a different direction - well eight different directions - taking a lead from Katherine's maps and charts. The Derwent Valley below Cromford is said to be unique in containing four major channels of communication which can, it is locally said, be encompassed by the 'throw of a stone'.  Cromford was the site of Richard Arkwright's first mill in which water power was used to power his Water Frame in the mass production of cotton thread.

Charles Monkhouse

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