Henrietta Armstrong – Pendle Hill Summit Stones Exhibition

Bermondsey | Exhibition

SET Project space | 76-89 Alscot Rd, London SE1 3AW | Saturday 2nd February, 5-10pm |BYOB

Henrietta Armstrong - Pendle Hill Summit Stones Exhibition

This is the only opportunity to see the stones in their entirety before they make their journey up to Lancashire. After which the stones will be taken up to the top of Pendle Hill, where they will be partially buried in a circle around the trig point, with the majority of each stone hidden from view.

Henrietta has been working on the Pendle Hill Summit Stones, commission for Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership and In-Situ, since June 2018. She has created twelve stones, eight from cast concrete and four from limestone.
Each have been engraved with designs relating to different aspects of the hill, influenced by creative sessions she led with local community groups and conversations with residents from all over Pendle.

The Pendle Hill Summit sculptures represent the meeting of man and nature – the anthropocene. The eight cube-like sculptures are cast from concrete made with cement sourced from a local quarry at the foot of Pendle Hill. The cube, seemingly out of place amongst nature’s backdrop, yet it is one of the most common and simplest shapes found in crystals and minerals. Edges or corners of the sculptures are cut away in places and this conveys the natural process of weathering and erosion from exposure to the elements.

Engravings on each of the eight sculptures reference aspects of Pendle Hill and humanity.

Contour lines, a familiar site on the maps used by walkers, echo the geography of the area and contours of the hill itself. Cell patterns of the Sphagnum moss, as seen under a microscope, are a homage to the moss that has compacted over thousands of years to form the layers of peat on the hill. Fossils point to the hidden geology and history of the hill.
Echinoids, belemnites, Crinoidea and ammonites, fossilised sea creatures linking us to a time when Pendle would have been underwater, are common in the bedrock that Pendle Hill is formed from. The honeycomb pattern honours bees and the insects who pollinate the plants on the hill, as well as the crops globally that we are so reliant on. Ring & cup petroglyphs, one of the earliest forms of prehistoric art, relate to the earliest settlers on Pendle Hill, 12,000 years ago. The communication stone represents mankind and the many ways of communicating we have developed through time and different cultures. The warp and weft of woven fabric on the weaving loom refers to the cotton industry, as it has had such an important role in the history and development of the Pendle area, particularly Burnley, King Cotton, which was once the cotton capital of the world. The Moon and constellations relate to the universe and how everything has its place in the grand scheme of things. Nature can often make us realise how insignificant we are in its midst. Constellations also reference the seasons and also link to Richard Towneley the astrologer who conducted experiments on the hill.

The four sculptures that mark North, South, East and West, will be carved from locally sourced limestone and will be a half sphere. At the centre of each of these is a well, the sphere and the well in the centre symbolise a human egg, the beginning of all human journeys. The well is a space where visitors are invited to pick up the last stone left in the well and leave their own, thus creating a conversation between them and the last person on the hill. This subtly feeds into the existing tradition of people creating Cairns, piles of stones, as path markers. These sculptures will also mark the Ley lines that run from North to South and East to West. The well also will act as a rainwater collector for birds and dogs to drink from.

The Pendle Hill Summit Stones will be on display and then they will be taken up to the top of the hill. After this the entirety of the Pendle Hill Summit Sculptures will not be seen again in our lifetime. Like archaeology in reverse, buried with the intention
of being found, they will be set into place around the trig point and buried in the ground so only the top surface is visible. The main body of the sculptures concealed underground, not to be seen again completely until the ground slowly erodes around them and the stones are gradually exposed once more to the Pendle of the future. There will be a message to the future engraved on the stones that has been decided through workshops and talking to people in the Pendle area. The chosen message will never be written anywhere, only people that see the stones before they are embedded, at the final procession or one of the other opportunities to see them, will know what this message is. It will then be hidden from sight once the stones are set into place and covered with earth, lying in wait to be passed on to the future.

The circle or ring that the stones will form around the trig hold the simple yet rich connotations of continuity, life and cyclic time, referencing infinity, the sun and moon, perfection and completion amongst other things. The ring links to peace, unity, hope and trust, something the suffragettes, the quakers and other radicals from the area were always working towards.

Henrietta Armstrong is a multimedia artist using sculpture, ceramics, painting and digital art within her practice, which is influenced by archaeology and anthropology. Whilst fabricating archaeological artefacts and relics, she looks at the ceremonial practices that could be applied to them, considering rituals from the past and future. Looking at defunct technologies and structures she digitally alters their forms to create futuristic totems. ‘Future Archaeology’ is a title she has coined for an ongoing body of work, looking at how we analyse items discovered from earlier civilisations. She considers what we are leaving behind and how this will be deciphered by our future descendants

The commission, led by In-Situ, is part of The Gatherings – the art and people strand of Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership – a four year project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve Pendle Hill, making it more accessible and enjoyable for the people of Pendle for years to come. This project is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.




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