Is it possible to have a conversation with a metal? This is the intriguing question artist Simon Pope has asked himself, and others, as part of a project on Dartmoor commissioned by Spacex titled ‘A Song, A Dance, And A New Stannary Parliament’.
The process for the project has been one of conversation between Pope and a range of people with knowledge of tin mining’s history, current land-management practices and those with concerns for the Dartmoor landscape’s environmental, economic and cultural future. These include archaeologists, historians, planners, miners, local dialect speakers, artists, and musicians. Inspired by the Stannary Parliaments which arbitrated on all matters relating to tin in the area, Pope held a series of meetings in four of the medieval Dartmoor Stannary towns where tin was historically assayed and sold. Pope’s ambition is for the track to become part of the folk song repertoire and heard by thousands.
The project is topical as, for the first time after the tin mines were closed on Dartmoor in the 1930s, work commenced to reopen one to extract tin and tungsten on 14th March at Hemerdon by the Australian company Wolf Minerals. The artist describes his project as an attempt to define a new type of environmental and cultural understanding of landscape in an age of ‘post-abstraction’ where: ‘Exploitation gives way to some other quality of relationship… one which seeks to understand the environment, and human engagements with it, as a mutual relationship of co-dependents.’ Simon Pope
This project has been developed by Spacex in order to work with a cultural landscape that has always had a significant influence in the area, Dartmoor. In doing so, the aim has been to develop a project that draws on the experience and social conditions of the area and actively engages its communities, culminating in a temporary artwork that has a longer term presence.
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