FIELD TRIP FIVE David Walker-Barker’s Studio and Elsecar Heritage Centre
Led by Dan Eltringham, poet and collaborator with David Walker-Barker
Going underground: a visit to the artist David Walker-Barker's studio and collections, Elsecar. Walker-Barker's studio(s) house a wonderful, eclectic collection of findings that tell the story of his practice, engaged with aspects of geology and landscape evolution, human extractivism and vast, nonhuman time-scales. You'll encounter a fossilised marine crocodile, minerals and crystals pulled from every mine shaft and cliff-side quarry in the north of England, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bottles and ceramics from past eras' waste-disposal solutions––and the artist himself. From the layers of time embodied in disrupted strata Walker-Barker has excavated superb ammonites from abandoned alum shale excavations on the North Yorkshire Coast, deep-toned amethystine quartz from the volcanic rocks of the Peak District, Derbyshire, and from an abandoned quarry in the North Pennines the most spectacular and perfect crystals of colour zoned fluorite speckled with brilliant diamond like crystals of quartz, all set within uniquely fashioned artist's cabinets. The quarried and mined environment has provided a visual theme for Walker-Barker's art works, which reflect both the structural complexity of geological processes and the cultural and industrial dimension of their impact upon landscape forms and in particular the people who toiled in those industries. Indeed, Elsecar itself is an extremely interesting conservation village for industrial heritage, transformed by the Earls Fitzwilliam into a major regional centre for iron and coal extraction. This excursion will conclude by visiting the Elescar Heritage Centre, set within a restored ironworks and colliery that is home to artists’ studios, antique centres and exhibitions.