Baskeyfield and Popham: Of Flesh and Stone


Tom Baskeyfield and Mario Popham

Of Flesh and Stone, 2019

Artist’s Book, edition 100

Essays by the artists, Sarah Jaspan and Ruth Siddall; 36 Illustrations,

Funded by the Arts Council


Baskeyfield and Popham ‘Of Flesh and Stone’ is a beautiful artist’s book which records a project connecting human experience and the environment. It is about slate, from the hills of Wales to the roofs of Manchester. We glimpse some of the people who live among the landscapes, urban and semi-rural. The artists made this distinctive publication for an exhibition first held in Manchester at Home . It tracks the course of their long study of the relationships between natural and built environments.

The book and project follows on from the artists’ first urban-rural project ‘Shaped by Stone‘, which we exhibited at GroundWork Gallery in 2017.  Its sequel, ‘Of Flesh and Stone’ highlights the connections between the post-industrial landscape of North Wales and the urban rooftops of Manchester.  The artists aim to bring to the fore layers of shared history.

From the hills of Wales to slate roofs of Manchester

Humans, over many centuries, have chipped, split and blasted stone. In doing so, they have been re-configuring hillsides and moving mountains.The mountains of North Wales have been transformed by the large-scale extraction of slate. It was exported from there to feed the demands of the Industrial Revolution and its vast scale of development. By recording the scars and remnants of this conquest, Baskeyfield and Popham examine a past dependence on rock. The material continues to shape the human narratives unfolding within these hills and valleys. Meanwhile, in the northern city of Manchester created by the very same forces of industry, the remnants of these mountainsides endure among the glass, concrete and steel.

The artists’ work:

Tom Baskeyfield specialises in a unique relief drawing technique, embossed rubbing with graphite. His works make direct contact with the stony landscape. But they exist as glistening abstract images, evoking stone, but establishing quite another kind of mystical presence. Mario Popham’s photography gives us portraits, a range of insights, vistas, details of buildings and industrial contexts. The dialogue between the two artists makes this an absorbing and varied project and book.

Tom Baskeyfield said: “Over recent years my practice has developed in response to
the ecological crisis we find ourselves in, and a concern for how we got here. I am
moved to seek out the connections and relationships we have with each other and
the earth. This takes me back to the land where I am drawn, in particular, to fields
and quarries as potential bridging places, sites of interaction between ourselves and
the planet. The relationship we have with the land is deeply complex, formed over
millennia. I see art as a lens, and a language, to explore this relationship and to
respond and communicate.”

Mario Popham added: “Walter Benjamin tells us ‘the present comprises the entire
history of mankind as an enormous abridgement’. I see photography as a means to
make a lyrical enquiry into our common history, the ways in which we live with our
past and our ever-shifting relationship to the natural world.”

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