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Taskscape (1)

Brownsword, Neil (2020) Taskscape (1). [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

Taskscape was a one of a series works created for the 2019 Whitegold International Ceramic Prize, St Austell, on Brownsword's receipt of its Quartz Award.

It aimed to reconnect the histories of North Staffordshire and mid-Cornwall surrounding the material culture of clay and ceramics which have intertwined through regional industry for over two centuries. Taskscape employed paced film sequences that elucidate the complexities of human knowledge embedded within the extraction and processing of St Austell's china clay resource. The principles of china clay extraction and refining have changed little since William Cookworthy discovered it in 1746. Traditional wet-mining methods harnessed the forces of erosion and gravity of natural watercourses to ‘win’ the clay from granite dug manually from hillside sites.

Today explosives, high pressure water cannon and systems of dry mining have greatly increased access to reserves improving maximum yield. The arduous labour once performed by teams of workers with picks and shovels has been substituted by the likes of dump-trucks, bulldozers, centrifugal gravel pumps, jaw crushers and belt conveyors. With the advances of automated technology, human engagements with the landscape have reduced largely to sedentary contact with vehicles, keyboards and tele-remote systems that control and transform Clay Country’s industrial topography. These ‘performative landscapes’ coined as ‘taskscapes’ by the social anthropologist Tim Ingold, remain an active assemblage of human and material actions that intertwine in a constant state of flux.

Taskscape illuminates moments of material transformation coordinated by human hand. The liminal spaces and by-products of china clay production – effervescent matter, incidental accretions and turquoise waters associated with methods of extracting, separating and settling – are framed as aesthetic entities. The film during its installation at Whiteriver Place in St Austell, was accompanied by physical tools that retain the visible traces of the combined rhythmic labour of human and non-human agencies.

Taskscape focusses attention on phenomena seldom seen and offers them up for poetic contemplation. These phenomena bring into being the material we encounter often in our daily lives in medicines, paper, paint and in the ceramics from which we eat and drink.

View film at: https://youtu.be/PPUDTc8b-50

Item Type: Artefact
Uncontrolled Keywords: video, sharing, camera phone, video phone, free, upload
Faculty: School of Digital, Technologies and Arts > Art and Design
Event Location: White River Place, St Austell, Cornwall
Depositing User: Neil BROWNSWORD
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 11:01
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2022 11:01
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/7151

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