Carol Weir is our current artist in residence at Wheal Martyn. Read her blog about her work below…
How has the use of the site changed?
What differences are there in the people who use the site and how they view it/interact with it?
What will the future bring?
These are the questions that came to mind as I got to know Wheal Martyn during my time as a volunteer.
I started volunteering with the curatorial team at Wheal Martyn in December 2017, while also studying for my degree. The volunteering led to me taking part in the Citizen Curators course and I researched the use of china clay in paper-making. After completing that course, it made perfect sense to me to continue with my volunteering but to combine it with my art practice. This is why I’ve started work as Artist in Residence!
As an artist, I specialise in handmade paper and printing as well as temporary site-specific installation work. My art is inspired by transience – the way things are always changing. These changes can be related to memory, people or places, so Wheal Martyn is a perfect place for me to work.
Although my main base is next to the cooperage, over the next year I will be found all over the site every Monday (please note I’m away on Monday 5th August though!), trying to find the answers to my questions and finding ways to show what I find in some form of art.
To begin with I’m taking advantage of the great weather we’ve been having here in Cornwall by sketching outside. I’ll investigate some of the indoor spaces and the extensive archive when the weather isn’t so good!
It’s lovely to be out of the studio and investigating the working pit and the nature trails. This is one of my sketches from Pit View with the tiny workers’ vehicles dwarfed by the scale of the open mine.
…and this is one of my sketches in progress of the ruin of the Gomm Engine House that I came across on the Nature Trail – they are both well worth a look as you walk the trails!
It’s been really good talking to people while I’m sketching and they’ve told me many interesting things about their own experiences of visiting Wheal Martyn and the St Austell area over the years and about how things have changed – perfect for my investigations! I am writing some of the comments on the sketches I’m drawing so I have a record of where and when I spoke to someone and what I saw while I was speaking to them.
Have you visited Wheal Martyn or maybe worked in the china clay industry yourself? If you have any interesting or funny stories about your time here that you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at WMVolunteer1@wheal-martyn.com. Maybe your stories will be included in my artwork!
Later, I’ll look at the sketches and notes to see how they could influence what the finished work will be. I’ll be doing some experiments with handmade paper incorporating china clay that could also be included in the later work. You’ll be able to see what progress I’m making through Wheal Martyn’s social media pages or my Instagram page @carolweirart – watch this space!
As part of my residency I’m also going to be running a couple of basic paper-making workshops on 21st and 28th August, where people can have a go at making small samples of paper, incorporating petals and leaves from Wheal Martyn. I’ll also have a few wildflower seeds that could be included – the paper can then be planted and you can watch them grow!