© 2014-2017 Lisa Risbec

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Doremifasolasido Residency: Florence Mine, Egremont

During the summer of 2016 I took part in this Artist-led group residency that takes place each year at different art centres across rural Cumbria @Doremiresidency.

Below are some images which capture my work over the week, and an essay I wrote afterwards to reflect on my experience.

 

The earth runs red. Or overwhelmingly orange.

 

The red of the iron ore permeates everything. The water on the ground, the rubble and scrap metal on site. Egremont red has become an obsession. Paint from the pigment, red-toned walls and soft furnishings. Rust, Ochre, Salmon pink, Russet, Coral, Burnt sienna, Terracotta, Auburn, Orange.

 

Then, after all of the red, comes the search for blue. For pops of green and yellow. Teal and jade. Vivid green moss. The blue of the sky.

 

The story of a room marbled with colour from years of steam and iron.

 

Contamination.

 

Remnants from the time when it was a shower block, a room where the miners were quarantined until all of the red was gone. Moving into the clean room only when all traces had been eliminated. Even if there were no physical traces left, the red left its mark in other ways.

 

A red man returns back to his home, his sitting room perfectly decorated in shades of blue. He sits there and lets it sink in. Balance is restored. Red to blue, orange to turquoise. A red man in a blue room.

 

Reality is distorted in this place. The metallic salmon pink JCB and corrugated iron walls rendering the ivy fake, almost too green. Nature in this environment seems normal, usual, expected. Thriving between traces of industry. Not as alien as in the city, but perhaps also not as precious.

 

The neighbouring Sellafield. An imposing structure both visually, silhouetted against the coastal skyline, and aurally with its gentle hum and sporadic booms out to sea. Slowly closing itself down.

 

Colour as a metaphor for industry. Mining replaced by art. Moving on, but with a strong sense of nostalgia. The industry of nuclear energy that has replaced the mining industry of old. Community funding and integration. Making local improvements as it makes itself indispensable.

 

The topography of this place becoming distilled down into just fragments of colour and traces of history.

 

And this rural community, at the edge of the land, seems to mirror the edgelands of urban spaces, allied in their overlooked, neglected beauty. With bigger forces pushing agendas, competing for their piece. And, nature, pushing its own agenda in the way it always does.