The Chrome Hill Project

Chrome Hill is steeped in history- layers of it.

There are a series of sharp edged limestone ridges on the north side of the upper Dove Valley where, 340 million years ago coral reefs formed the edges of tropical lagoons.

Look east as you travel out of Buxton on the A53 towards Staffordshire. The leaning, sharpened peaks of Parkhouse and Chrome Hill are out of place amongst the softer landscape. And at only 425m you look down on them, a mini Switzerland sunken amongst rolling hills.

Typical of limestone landscapes these hills are riddled with a network of cave systems formed by  swallets and resurgence waters which in later and colder times became places of hibernation, shelter and burial. There are notable caves; Dowel Cave was a burial place 6,000 years ago, the skulls and skeletons of ten people were found here but charcoal fragments reveal its use as far back as 11,000 years. Nearby Fox Hole cave on the pyramid shaped High Wheeldon had human bone, pottery, an axe and sharpened antler points that date the occupation of the cave at 15,000 years ago and excavations at Hitter Hill uncovered two cists  and four rock cut graves. The finds are in Buxton Museum. Then there is the potholers’ favourite, the huge but hidden Owl Hole and the mysteriously deep and lesser known Etches cave, named after the family who farm the land.

The view from Hitter Hill is stunning and can easily be accessed from a footpath running behind The Quiet Woman pub at Earl Sterndale. It is this same view that features in Buxton Museum’s Wonder of the Peak gallery. From here the ridge of Parkhouse looms tall and imposing and the ‘spine’ of Chrome Hill clearly articulated giving rise to its local name ‘The Dragons Back’. Sharp sunlight adds vividity to this view when both crags cast their dense shadows into the valley accentuating the amphitheatre they create around Glutton and Dowel Dale.

Take a walk here and you will sense this area is indeed unique giving the impression that you are simultaneously in expansive space and yet closed in on all sides.

It is here in the valley of Dowel Dale that two artists, Tony Wild and Brian Holdcroft decided to plot their materials and their ideas to take their work on a journey for twelve months.

Both artists originally hail from the Potteries. Tony having worked in the arts ever since studying at Burslem School of Art in the late 1950’s, and Brian developing his art form in more or less isolation from other artists until meeting Tony over twenty years ago. Over the years their work has diverged and returned to the landscape many times.

 

T and B at Chrome Hill
Brian Holdcroft and Tony Wild at the barn at Chrome Hill.

This exhibition is a culmination of work they created throughout the year from spring 2018 to spring 2019.

Most months are inclement here in the Peaks, they needed shelter. And so they hired a barn from farmer Mr Etches to store their materials, keep a stove and when needed take refuge.

Throughout the twelve months they drew, explored, walked and photographed. Their work shows the industry of their origins both in its output and how it now appears in series and variations.

Tony’s work falls into set of images. Chrome Hill and groups of trees appear as a repeated motif in small heavily textured and expressive paintings, their energy punching out from their size. Butterflies are lost in the textures of limestone and the microscopic world of lichens are honed in and magnified into much larger paintings. And there is colour, lots of it.

TREES AT PARKHOUSE HILL i
Trees at Parkhouse Hill – Tony Wild

He has two folders of work on display. One has sets of ink drawings created on the spot reminiscent of Japanese Sumi-e painting. The other, a series of photo montages cut from striking images of the hills, close-ups of tracks and the limestone’s lichen, again with a repeat motif. There seems to be four or more threads to Tony’s work, each with the potential to go on a journey of their own from this same central point.

BIRD AND BARK
Bird and Bark – Tony Wild

Brian’s work evolves into series; growth, erosion and mapping, as he considers the layered histories of the area and the interactions between its geology, materials, animal and human activity. He uses beeswax, pigment, ink and earth in his paintings. All were created outside at Chrome Hill.

MAPPING SERIES RESPONSE X
Mapping Series: In and Around Chrome Hill – Brian Holdcroft

Also on display are Brian’s lead bowls- lead runs through the veins of the hills here- and note books he buried behind the barn they hired. Later exhumed they become objects in themselves that have withstood compression and change – albeit for a short period- as did the giant brachiopod fossils abundant at Chrome Hill. What do they contain?

buried book
Buried Book- Brian Holdcroft

Many would describe both artists’ work as abstract or expressive. Brian’s more so but the colours are naturalistic- and having experienced this area first hand- particular and precise. The work of both artist is lively and not always recognisable or descriptive, preferring to reveal its imagery and topography slowly as you immerse yourself into it, walk along with it, much as a landscape or a view unravels itself on a journey or by simply observing it quietly, in increments. In essence it’s all here.

 

The exhibition continues at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery until Saturday 23rd November 2019

More information on the artists can be found here:

Brian Holdcroft: http://www.brianholdcroft.co.uk/

Tony Wild: https://www.artuk.org/discover/artists/wild-tony-b-1941

Gallery – Wild About Colour

Ref: DOWEL CAVE

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1011923

ETCHES CAVE

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=35279

HATCH-A-WAY CAIRN

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=32984

 

Whispers in the Grass

July 2019

Low Haymeadows 36

These hills,

Buttress the sky,

Green mounds echo the sky,

Draw rain into this deep valley,

Its thirst.

 

Low Knapweed, 1Part of the BM125 project involved taking ideas about the Collections back into the landscapes a lot of those collections came from. In July, as one of our public events, Creeping Toad teamed up with Borderland Voices to host a poetry and art day at the Dove Valley Centre in the Upper Dove Valley fitting the day into the Buxton Fringe Festival

 

 

26 people joined us for a day of walking and wandering, scribbling ideas, sharing words, creating pictures and eating cake. We didn’t tie the day to any particular artefacts but drew upon the historic landscapes of the Moorlands and poems unfolded about the flowers we met, the drystone walls and the agricultural history of the area. The clear night-time skies over the dales inspired solar system pictures while other people focussed in to capture the flowers of traditional haymeadows.

Solar system copy

Poems from the day are being posted on the Creeping Toad blog and some of the shorter pieces, especially the riddles, will be logged onto the Wonders of the Peak app to tempt people out walking to create their own

 

Rock-weigher,

Field-ruler,

Bone-layer,

Stone-shepherd*

Have a go yourself?

A quick haiku activity: go outside and sit down on the ground if you can. There, a) look at the sky above, b) touch the ground below, c) reflect on how these sensations make you feel. Turn those three thoughts into 3 lines. You might use the syllable convention ( 5 syllables, 7 then 5 again) but you don’t have to! Go for short, clear images and hold onto room to breathe….(Looking up, reaching down are a good pair of sensations, you could use others!)

Two haiku:

Whispers in the grass

Little rustles through small stems

Wind flowing freely

Low flower strip

Performance begun

Wind playing its instruments

Grass whispers softly

 

Thanks to our Whispers poets and artists

The opening poem is by Mary King,

for the others we haven’t got notes of the poets names!

*answer: drystone waller

Creeping Toad blogs:

Summer warmth

Echoing the sky

A voice in a field

DVC morning
morning from the Dove Valley Centre

 

The Derbyshire Open is now … open!

The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition was officially opened last night and you can see the amazing artwork yourself for free until Friday 13 September 2019. Most of the works are for sale. The overall winner, The Derbyshire Trophy is a purchase prize and joins over a thousand other works in the museum’s collection for future generations to enjoy.

59 DERBYSHIRE TROPHY A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate
A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate

The Derbyshire Open Art Competition is run annually by Derbyshire County Council. In this the competition’s 37th year, 258 entries have been received from across Derbyshire and neighbouring counties.  22 entries from young people under 21 years were included in this year’s selection.

140 DCC YOUNG ARTIST AWARD There's No Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner
There’s no Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner, aged 7

Three judges had the difficult task of choosing the pictures to exhibit and selecting the award winners. Sandra Orme is a Buxton artist and previous winner of the Buxton Spa Prize, Amanda Penman is the editor of Artbeat Magazine which promotes all sorts of artistic and creative activity in Derbyshire and Chris Walters is a member of The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges’ selection provides an exhibition celebrating the county and living here:  where we live, the view and how we spend our time. It shows a good feeling about living in Derbyshire: the landscape, the friendliness of the people and the impressive architecture.

The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery sponsor a purchase prize. Chair of the Friends, Lindsay Crowe presented the award to this year’s winner which will be added to the museum’s collection.

195 FRIENDS PRIZE Seeking the Source- Shooters Clough by Patrick Jones.png
Seeking the Source: Shooter’s Clough by Patrick Jones

One prize has yet to be decided. Visitors are encouraged to help choose the Visitors Choice Prize which will be announced in August. You can plan your visit here.

Whispers in the Grass, event

Whispers in the Grass

Low Haymeadows 36

a day of words and art

Dove Valley Centre

Tuesday 9th July

11.00 – 15.00

write a poem, draw a picture, shape a story from a twig, 

a feather and a leaf….bring a picnic and relax

Low Haymeadows 37A breeze blows through the hay, a bumblebee buzzes, sun warms the old meadows of the Dove Valley and we all settle into an ease of stories and poems. Join the Creeping Toad and Borderland Voices team for a day of inspiration from the fields and wide skies of the valley

This event is planned as a day for casual creativity. Our artists will support you with ideas and materials and you can do as much or as little as you like. You can just take some time to simply enjoy the beauty of the Upper Dove Valley, chat to new friends or old mates and (maybe? hopefully!) watch the ravens tumbling in the sky over Pilsbury castle

Whispers is a free event: no booking or tickets are needed, just drop by and join in. If you would like to check anything out, contact Gordon on creepingtoad@btinternet.com

Dove Valley Centre: follow the link for directions to the Centre. When you arrive at Under Whitle, you can drive down the track to the Centre (right at the end of the track) but you are recommended to park at the top of the hill and walk, saunter or wander down the hill to the Centre and enjoy the views as you drop into the deep valley

Buxton Festival Fringe

This gentle event is outside Buxton so give yourself a day off from Festival stuff and come out into the Moorlands.

A BM125 event for Buxton Museum and Art Gallery in partnership with Creeping Toad and Borderland Voices

Fringe logo.18

The Lost Beasts of Buxton

The Lost Beasts

Lost Beasts strip

free family event

Saturday 29th June

1 – 4pm

at Buxton Museum

 

Making carnival masks and hats inspired by our very own scimitar-tooth cats,

cave lions, wild horses and mammoths.

 

Low Masks animal 79Once upon a time and not so long ago there were wolves in the Peak District hills, wild boars in the woods and beavers in the rivers. Once there were wild ponies here, and cave lions, reindeer and bears. There were scimitar-toothed cats and straight-tusked elephants.

 

Before that, long and longer ago there were strange sharks swimming in ancient limestone seas.

What wonderful animal would you celebrate?

mask-Small-lion copy

Join us at the Museum to make animal masks and hats to wear in Buxton Carnival – or just to wear and enjoy and relish the animals that lived here once (or, for unicorns, maybe “should have lived here once”).

Celebrate the ancient animals of the Peaks and join Two Left Hands in the Buxton Carnival Parade. A BM125 workshop as part of the celebrations for the Museum’s 125th anniversary

 

 

This event is free, no booking or tickets needed. Children under 7 should bring a grown-up with them and you need to allow 45 minutes to make an animal hat

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