Impermanent Landscapes of the Clee Hills
The Clee Hills in Shropshire, the highest hills in the English Midlands, were quarried for minerals and building stone for centuries. Heavily industrialised in the 19th and 20th centuries, they have now become silent, empty places, largely abandoned to telecoms stations, forestry and hill farming.
Evoking a sense of the transience of all things mortal and man-made, these black-and-white images of a single scarred English landscape are local in scope but universal in what they represent. Quiet and contemplative in style, they are charged with a sense of the brevity and fragility of human life.
Quarry Land: Impermanent Landscapes of the Clee Hills was launched at mac (the Midlands Arts Centre) in Birmingham in March 2005, touring to various locations across the UK thereafter. The exhibition was supported by a major publication/touring grant from the Arts Council of England and by South Shropshire Arts.
In the foreword to Quarry Land, the book of the exhibition, the celebrated landscape photographer Paul Hill writes: 'Simon Denison's metaphoric vision of the Clees is one that is full of industrial remnants and abandoned objects. The impression is of a harsh and unforgiving landscape — a place forgotten, overlooked, and apart. The work is beautifully elegiac.'
The series of 60 images includes both landscapes and portraits (with interviews) of people who work on the two hills. The book, Quarry Land, hardback with 61 duotones, was published by Greyscale Books in 2005 (ISBN 0-9541878-1-4, £14.95). It is available from any bookshop, including online from Amazon. Signed copies are available directly from Greyscale Books (go to shop).
In August 2009, Abandoned quarries with radar station, Titterstone Clee summit won the Bitterley Underwriting Prize at the Ludlow Summer Exhibition. Philip Harley, Director of 20th Century British Art at Christie's, described the photograph as 'superbly original, unusually eerie ... [and] excellent'. The show, an open exhibition of contemporary art selected by a panel chaired by Alan Grieve, Chairman of the Jerwood Foundation, included works by over 50 artists including such internationally recognised names as David Hamilton, John Salt, Lucy Jones, Angela Conner and Shani Rhys James.
first time that I climbed to the summit of Brown Clee, the higher
Click on thumbnails below for larger images
|Dumped caravan, Titterstone Clee||Spoilheaps with corrugated iron sheet||Burnt-out car with water trail||Dead sheep, Brown Clee||Conifer stumps with birch trees|
|Overgrown lime crusher, Brown Clee||Abandoned quarry with drowned cars||War memorial, Brown Clee||Capped mine shaft, Whatsill||Spoilheaps with radio masts, Clee Burf|
|Tree-post with horse, Random||Quarried dhustone, Clee Hill Quarry||Ruined quarry building, Abdon Burf||Chestnut trees in conifer plantation||Telegraph pole with stile, Abdon|
|Titterstone Clee summit||Quarry building with land drain||Quarry workers' housing, Dhustone||Four grazing sheep, Brown Clee||Watertank, Titterstone Clee|
|Sheep shed, Brown Clee||Former quarry road, Magpie Hill||Sheep sheds with iron grille||Abandoned quarry, Titterstone Clee||Abdon village looking to Abdon Burf|
|Ruined building, Titterstone Clee||Burnt-out car by former railway line||Pylon footings, Whatsill||Spoilheaps over Clee Hill village||Crusher building, Abdon Burf|
|Former incline railway, Brown Clee||Keep Out I, Titterstone Clee||Crusher buildings, Magpie Hill||Keep Out II, Titterstone Clee||Wrecked cars, Titterstone Clee|
|Nordy Bank hillfort, Brown Clee||Village ford with pony, Brown Clee||Disused railway line with car tyre||'No Driving on Common Land'||Quarry road with sheep, Brown Clee|
|Sheep skull I, Titterstone Clee||Spoilheap with young sheep, Brown Clee||White signpost, Brown Clee||Collapsed quarry structures, Whatsill||Sheep
|Titterstone Clee from Brown Clee||Gatepost with barbed wire, Brown Clee||Remains of 'whizz-bang' shed||Stained notice, Doddington||The Kremlin Inn, Clee Hill village|