Last weekend I visited Sombourne chalk quarry in Hampshire to choose the chalk I need for my next exhibition. After several conversations with Mark Yorke who owns and runs the quarry single handily.
Ben and I drove down with plastic boxes in the boot and began selecting the chalk from the various different shapes and sizes from large boulders to dust.
Throughout the quarry, the chalk is divided into different sizes according to it's use.
The dust to 20 is used for agriculture to line the flooring for cow sheds.
Chalk is also used within the building trade for construction work such as building or lining river banks.
The larger blocks some weighing up to a tonne are often used for larger projects or art works. It's interesting to find out how this material is utilised but also the handling processes involved in the quarry itself. It's removed from the landscape in metre levels according to the natural seam lines.
The quarry is normally only in working order during the summer months as it's an impossible task to work with such a dusty material during the wet winter. In many ways it's fairly similar to the way clay pits function.
Where industry is very much dependant upon the weather conditions and seasonal cycles.
Image taken by Ben Winkley 2015
Whilst I was there we filled two boxes of dust to 20 and a further two boxes of the larger chunks which can be seen in the forth image here.
When we arrived brilliant sunshine was beaming down into the quarry.
This was a new experience!
I had never been into such a space that was saturated by the colour white before.
With the addition of sunshine it becomes blinding but also quite invigorating.
You realise how powerful it is and the spiritual connections white carries with it.
It's something I've been interested in for a while now and White ultimately plays a huge part in this current piece of work but it's so rare that you find yourself immersed within a natural landscape surrounded by one solid colour.
Flint is embedded within the chalk and has to be removed by hand this type of flint is quite rare with the white skin and dark black interior and is only found within this locality. When you visit Winchester flint has been used in many of the older buildings some of the interior walls within the theatre have been lined with it.
I brought one piece away with me which I intend to include in the final process display in October.
Please follow the link to take a look at the quarry as there are very few chalk quarries left in the country anymore and it's quite a special place and a big thank you to Mark for all his help.