A quarry from two directions – Marged Pendrell

As a group we had decided to each host a visit to a quarry that we had an affinity with or had worked in previously. For each of us the quarry landscape is a familiar one but I wasn’t expecting the varied histories and personal experiences that we shared during these collaborative journeys.

Approaching Dinorwig quarry from both directions gave an insight into its massive scale both physically and emotionally. I hadn’t taken many steps before I came across my first ‘found object’ –

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This was the last thing I had imagined coming across, and an object which was an antithesis of such an environment .At this early stage, I was totally enveloped by the scale  and this small intimate yellow duck, which had the essence of children and play,  brought a softness as a strong contrast to the mountains of grey /purple slate.

The physicality of human achievement however,  both in what was quarried and what was built in order to do so, vast walls ,inclines, steps and  tunnels awakened the sculptor in me and I found myself relating to form and material as a priority from then on.

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Walking with Lindsey from her home Coed Gwydr in Nantperis, via Eglwys Sant Peris’ graveyard we saw the headstones of the previous occupants of her house, many of whom had died in the quarries. Standing on this ground at the foot of the quarries made me aware of how large a community had lived in this now, relatively compact village.

There were so many headstones with carved hands of various genders being held, beneath the words ‘Ffarwel -Farewell ’.There was one that differed from the rest and that particularly moved me, in that it included a small child’s hand resting on an older one, both held within the palm of a woman’s hand .It spoke of, ancestors, community and connection to this place.

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As we walked from Nantperis into the heart of the Llanberis/Dinorwig slate waste tips following the paths and steep steps of the workers trails, I reflected on how whole communities of this area had been affected by and involved with quarry life. The fact that we started from a quarry house with all its history as opposed to the entering from the other direction, from Dinorwig where I was totally immersed in the physical scale and forms, gave me a deeper insight and wider perspective of quarry life.

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