The Stars, At Our Feet

As Writer in Residence at Plas Tan y Bwlch, Maentwrog, I was seeking to celebrate the Snowdonia National Park being designated the world's tenth International Dark Sky Reserve in 2015, and searching for a suitably poetic link between the sky and the land.

Iron : forged in the hearts of stars, gifted to the universe upon their deaths. More plentiful than any other metal. It is in our blood. It is in the land. The acid waters from the high, peated moorland carried the iron down to deposit it as pans of bog-iron in the extensive marshlands that once surrounded the village of Maentwrog. This iron was discovered and worked by the ancient smiths of the Bronze Age, ushering in a new Age of : Iron.

Whilst I was delving into the extensive archives of the house, I came across a box of uncatalogued bits and pieces. There were assorted old photographs, newspaper cuttings, garden planting plans, hunting itineraries, along with old sales slips and receipts from the Oakley Quarries at Cwmorthin. On the back of one sales slip, dated 1889, was an anonymous poem and a tiny sketch.

It was a naïve, yet hugely evocative, poem about miners spending their shift underground during a terrible storm that threatened to flood the shafts. When they safely return to the surface, they find the storm has blown over to reveal the clear star-strewn night. Bent and bowed from their toil as they trudge back to their barracks, they see their heavy work boots splash through the puddles, the ripples mixing the reflections of the stars with their own.

When photographing these slate paths, I noticed iron and mineral stains in the huge slabs that would have been mined and split by such quarriers. These ‘rust stains’ reminded me of deep space nebulae, and the tiny chips and scratches left by hob nail boots provided the starscapes. I had found my poetic link…




(all photographs and scans on this page are copyright 2016 Remy Dean - please credit)

the quarrier's poem
the graphologist's report

Remy Dean presenting The Stars, At Our Feet at Oriel Colwyn, 2020

You can read an article about The Stars, at Our Feet in EGO Magazine HERE

Work from this series was shown at The Stable Block Gallery, Plas Tan y Bwlch, 2016 - 2017

presented at Oriel Colwyn, January 2020 

and was the inaugural exhibition at Signifier's Six Shot Gallery, January 2021

No comments:

Post a Comment