‘Utopian Realism’ is an exploration of rural utopianism, idealism and industrialism in the North East of England and Mid Wales by the artists Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Institute

There are many more things to be said about Sopwith and Allenheads but they will surface later.

For now I want to just expand further on mine and Mair's first shared experiences in the North.

The Mining Institute in Newcastle is going to host one of the creative outcomes from this project, so it is important to talk a bit more about what we discovered there.

As I mentioned earlier we looked at texts and maps, but the building itself is also very inspiring. Aside from the beautiful library there is an awesome lecture theatre which has photographic portraits of all the past presidents. It is a great place which we hope to use during the course of this project.

One of the texts Jennifer the librarian found for us was Sopwith's "Treatise on Isometric Drawing", the Institute have very kindly offered to scan this for us so we can refer to the diagrams in more detail. What Mair and I have begun to talk about is the various methods which Sopwith employed in order to understand his surroundings more fully and to convey these findings to others.

OK so I'm back to Sopwith again.....

He developed a simple surveying tool called the Sopwith Staff (Killhope Museum has three of them see pictures to follow), he developed a way of drawing the landscape that could be easily translated into three dimensions (Isometric Drawing) and he made models of these landscapes. I like the move between real and represented landscape together with the shifting between two and three dimensions: actual landscape, drawing, sculptural model. It is also something that Mair has explored in her work as she moves between drawing, sculpture and installation. More on this later.....

We also discovered a really amusing poem / set of verses by John Safe Esq from 1818. It's called "King Coal's Leeve" or "Geological Etiquette", we are having the whole pamphlet scanned so I'll be able to bring you more later. It is a great story about coal exerting it's power over the metals by melting them down.

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