Much of the stone used to rebuild folds and create new sculptures
for the Sheepfolds project is donated by local quarries
generosity which has enabled the project to be so ambitious in
scope. When completed, Sheepfolds will be the biggest public art
work by Andy Goldsworthy anywhere in the world. David Craig went
to visit one of the quarrymen, and find out more about where the
stone comes from.
The pale-gold sandstone for Andy Goldsworthy's cone at Church
Brough was extracted by Keith Brogden from the quarry which he
works single-handed at Ravenseat, in the upper reaches of Swaledale.
His grandson is at Church Brough School and Keith donated the
stone. He wrenches it out of the rock-face in broad chunks and
thick slabs with the teeth of his digger. Then he rives it with
hammer and cold chisels, driving the metal wedges into the black
hairlines of natural cracks. He carts it home on a double-wheeled
trailer behind his Toyota Landcruiser and guillotines it into
smaller pieces, usually for slates or flags, in the old cattle-court
on his farm in Borrens, near South Stainmore. His most recent
job was the slates for a new church roof at Lythe, north of Whitby.
The stacked slates took up fifteen stalls in the byre and Keith
says he was 'glad to get it done with'.
The source of the stone is 1500 feet above sea-level. It has been
worked on and off for between two and three hundred years. The
weathered grey rock-face is never more than thirty feet high.
A rowan roots on the very lip of the drop, and grouse perch in
it in August and September to eat the berries. When Keith took
on the quarry from his father-in-law, after an earlier career
as a waller, he got the stone out by clearing heaps of spoil from
the floor and pulling out quarried slabs that had been left there.
Now he is quarrying the face itself. Recently he started at a
vertical fault and worked westwards for thirty yards. The masses
of broken stone lie heaped, displaying their true colours and
beautiful surfaces. Keith runs the palm of his hand along the
sheer plane of a slab, relishing its fine grain and the subtlety
of the colours. Bands of brighter gold, and yellow ochre and khaki
and salmon, and bruise-blue and palest pink and off-white. Bands
that are like rainbows, or loop through 180º, or ripple like the
dunes which this rock may have been, long, long before it was
buried and crushed and heated and buckled, transforming it into
these strata beneath the bents and heather of the fellside.
Keith takes me down past Kirkby Stephen to show me some house
walls built with his stone, complete with window sills and heads
which he sawed and guillotined, then dressed by hand. He is a
complete craftsman, taking his work all the way from source to
finish. It's good to hear him acknowledge Andy Goldsworthy's different
craft different and akin. When I show Keith photos of the
Church Brough cone from the first course to the completed thing,
he says 'Yes, he knows what he's doing. There he is, crossing
his joints. It stands well, does that.'