I met Brian, manager of the quarry, and loads of other quarries around Co Clare, this morning at 8am to go into the quarry. It was drizzling and windy, therefore good weather in Co Clare terms. We drove in and first of all, I had no idea it was such a big site. We drove up and wound around all the old buildings and plant machinery, and wound through heaps of rocks, and stopped over looking this, below. It’s hard to get a sense of the size and how your stomach lurches when you look down. According to Brian quarries like this, with such sheer rock faces without any graduated ledges, are no longer allowed to be mined this way. Too dangerous. beyond the rocky ledge in the foreground is almost a sheer drop down to deep water. Brian estimated that the water is at least twice as deep as the height of the lowest ledge at the bottom of the right cliff face. The only sense of scale is the signpost and life buoy to the left of the photos. They have cameras around the site and lots of signs to try to stop people coming in and swimming. 2 boys drowned in another local quarry last summer. Brian said there are approx 150 quarries like this one around the country. What to do with them is a big problem.
He showed me around the rest of the site and warned me that the buildings are liable to fall down at any time, they have not been reinforced or strengthened in any way for years. He headed off then leaving me to my own devices.
I had planned to try, to try! To scope out the possibility of making another set of tasks here. It is as perfect as could be found a site. Huge, looming rusted machinery and buildings. Massive sheer cliff faces with rough cut rock. I was determined to try one. Being there, by myself, in the middle of this empty (of humans) space, was something I had made many phone calls and paid considerable expense to achieve. With no guarantee of work from it. I’d brought a dress to try, in particular, a task based around Gillian Wearing’s ‘Dancing in Peckham’, which I love and have been long term in awe of. Also, predictably and familiarly (familiarly? spelling?) I felt suffused with nerves, and teh usual what-thefuck-are-you-doing feeling. But seize teh day etc! I remened myself of the endless phones calls and cost of insurance etc, threw on my red gúna, and tried a couple of dances. Now, I hate, HATE dancing and am crap at it and feel utterly self conscious when doing so (which happens extremely rarely, in the last 10 years possibly only ever at a wedding, very alcoholically infuenced)
SO this was of course why I had to try it. I wanted to experience:
The awkwardness of dancing by myself in front of an old rusting plant machinery in a disused quarry. How would it feel?
Being outside, in the open, wind and drizzle, doing un-normal actions, which there has been less opportunity to indulge in with lockdown, pandemic restrictions yada yada.. I used to go to the studio in glór and crawl/roll around the place, now I have to go to abandoned quarries.
I danced away, thinking about the psychology of dance and a thousand memories of long ago when I used to go to clubs and gigs and dance, and take drugs and have a wonderful escapist time. In a packed, sweaty, smelly venue. Not out in the open, in the mid morning, by myself.
After I’d taken the dancing action footage (phew) I took more photos of that part of the site. I’m interested in the lines and texture of the images. How the machinery slowly starts to take on a more disorganised, organic feel as it ages and disintegrates.
Then I drove up a bit further and took more photographs and made a drawing. I stayed in my car as it was rainy and windy and I was frozen and really had to pee.
I will write more later..