The Ground Beneath our Feet: Extraction 3

The GroundWork Gallery Artist Residency Programme 2023

We are planning another phase of our artistic residency programme for 2023. Taking the theme of Extraction for a third year, we want this time to open it out to consider all possible aspects, from the physical to the more philosophical.

Coming soon: the call for participation will go out in February.

GroundWork residency network

Network of residents and hosts

We are working with a growing group of residency host partners and advisers. Our aim is to create a network between us of resident artists, past and present, hosts, and advisers, so that together we can strengthen our practice and have a growing effect on the way we see the resources around us.

GroundWork residency field trip

Social-environmental learning

We are pooling and sharing our resources so that we can provide the best experience for resident artists. Everyone will get free accommodation, board and lodging – either sharing meals or being given the resources to buy food. There will be studio space and facilities of various kinds and a chance to show results together at GroundWork Gallery’s project exhibition. An important key element is the preparatory work and the shared experience of field trips where we all explore local resources in the company of our expert advisers. We also all come together for meals and discussions at various points during the summer.

GroundWork residency the ground beneath our feet

The ground beneath our feet

Because of the particular geography and ecology of this part of Norfolk, our extraction studies so far have concentrated on examining exactly that: the local landscape and its resources. To date, during 2021 and 2022, we concentrated on those which have provided industry, such as aggregate, sand and stone digging and dredging, and in 2022 we began to look at peat. But we have barely scratched the surface (no pun intended!) There is just so much more to explore and consider, so much inspiration and so much of concern. Below are some of our discoveries.

Extraction as part of a network of relations

Last year, Anthony Powis conducted his field research largely along the north coast of Norfolk looking at dredging for aggregates and examining effects on the salt marsh landscape. He learnt about the complexities of conservation, that everything is connected and it is just not possible to isolate one aspect. One of his advisers, David North described the necessity to think like a migratory bird in terms of linked resources, interconnection rather than isolation Looking at the salt-marsh he said “ for a bird this site is one point in a network of relations…that includes atmospheric, marine, animal and telluric processes…”

Tim Holt Wilson the ebb and flow of tide

Extraction as absence and presence

Extraction can happen as part of the earth’s natural processes. In some of our field trips with geologist Tim Holt-Wilson in the last two years, we have seen the results of the earth’s shifting in which have revealed extraordinary effects in the landscape.

The ebb and flow of the tide is one such phenomenon – a process of erosion and deposition:
“A wave laps onto a beach then retreats – it configures sand and shingle – then it laps again and reconfigures those materials. Each configuration is a temporary outcome of processes in matter. It is not an intentional but a circumstantial process.” 

GroundWok residency strata 2

With Tim we also considered the stratigraphy of the landscape – the layers which have appeared, sometimes separated in time by thousands or even millions of years.
“strata …. are readable representations in matter of past operative processes inscribed in the environment. Strata only survive as phenomena because they have not yet been erased by erosion.”

Tim Holt Wilson stratigraphy of landscape

Extraction needs watching

Almost everything we live in, on and among, has one way or another been extracted – aggregate, clay, stone, slate for house-building; sands, tar and stones for roads, oil, coal, gas for heating; metals for electronics, for pipes, for jewels. Water for drinking and washing, field irrigation and gardening. It is not all bad – a lot of extraction is necessary for our lives to continue in warmth, security and comfort. But there is a lot that needs watching in case it is excessive, driven by greed, or is unnecessary or replaceable with more environmentally sustainable alternatives.