Harp Cottage Diary - Part 3

8th March 2017

The first Harp Cottage Residency took place in January 2017: Meadow Arts and artist Justine Cook provided an opportunity for an artist to stay in a cottage near the Welsh border, to allow time for artistic reflection in a rural setting.  We will follow the selected artist's practice over the next twelve months to discover what impact the residency has on their work and ideas over time.

Rob Hewitt of Redhawk Logistica shares his diary from the Harp Cottage Residency in a series of entries spanning the week of the residency.

Wed 18th Jan 2017

Did another coat of paint of the test pieces I am working on, so they have time to dry over the day. Stepped outside just in time to hear the long winded siren - then a big, deep explosion shook the ground and made the birds fly out of the hedges... so it must be 12.55, when the quarry blasts off more rock from the hillside... wow.. what an unexpected event to witness!

Decided it was a good day for a walk and followed the path behind the house in order to reach footpaths the other side of the A44 at Gore - but the way through seemed to be blocked - a possible route continued straight through the quarry works or alternatively through what looked like private drives to houses - there was no obvious way through and wandering into a working quarry or into people's gardens didn't appeal... so I turned around to head back to Harp Cottage to collect the car - as a walking detour was going to add too much time and distance to my little stroll.

I met an old farmer on the road near the church and he told me there was no longer a way through were I'd just been and there hadn't been for some time, I asked where's good to go around here for walking. He surprised me by saying, 'well, it's all the same really, it's all around us'... he's in it every day, so I guess he doesn't really think of it like that. I said it's so quiet round here at night - beautifully so - and he asked where I was from (Birmingham) and volunteered he'd never been to London - he's quite happy to be here. I wanted to know what he does when he has a day off - perhaps he goes to town or has a hobby? He was vague, apart from occasionally visiting the pub, and I suspected time off was the same as his relationship to the landscape... he doesn't think of it that way?!

So I drove and parked near Stanner Rocks (National Nature Reserve) and trudged uphill on the path that rises round the side of the hill - still carrying my packed lunch which I'd been trying to find somewhere nice sit down and eat for hours now! Got near the top of the climb only to hear the sound of machinery and chainsaws, where they were cutting down some of the huge, majestic 'pine' trees that topped off the hill. Bloody hell! With all the explosions and destruction round here its worse than back home, I thought.

The tree trunks bore violent scars that looked like they'd been attacked by a knife wielding maniac and reminded me how metal is such a hard and aggressive adversary against the softer wood , which yielded before it and whose remains pile up in mounts of scrapings. Luckily is was near 4pm and they stopped and at last I was able to find some peace in the misty atmosphere... and have a bite... and listen to the stream of lorries that seem to dominate the roads around here. Where do I go to get peace and quiet? I guess the night shift is my time, when all the workers have gone home... not really the day out in nature I had planned - but 'Challenging Wednesday' is there for a reason no doubt.

Tree cut down, with tool marks along its bough      Two trees lie on the ground, scarred boughs exposing bare wood