Martin Newth
  The Stone of Folly was an exhibition curated by William Cobbing at the Down Stairs Gallery in Hereford in 2012.  


  From press release:  

The exhibition The Stone of Folly references Arthur’s Stone, a Neolithic site in the Golden Valley, nearby Down Stairs, which has become the subject of local folklore and forgotten histories.


The site incorporates a broken glacial boulder resting on an ancient burial chamber, where King Arthur (Owd Artur) mythically slew a giant, leaving indentations of his elbows in the stone as he fell to the ground. Over the years, the morphology of the stone has changed due to it being quarried, with the rubble being used in local buildings. The term ‘stone of folly’ comes from a medieval allegory of madness and stupidity (akin to “rocks in the head”), referenced in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting ‘The Stone Operation’ (1488), in which a surgeon is depicted removing a stone-like lump from a patient’s head, accompanied by the inscription “Master, cut the stone out quickly / My name if Lubbert Das.”

  For the Stone of Folly, curator William Cobbing has invited artists to contribute works that play with the overlapping notions of fantastical narrative and shifting materiality. The exhibition will engage with ideas of superstition, alchemy, folly, entropy and flux that derive from the disjointed historical accounts of the site, and, more broadly, how we ascribe meaning to found objects and places. The exhibition questions the essence of temporal materiality, through sculpture and installation, digital, performance and text-based forms.  

A publication accompanies the exhibition featuring a specially commissioned text by Jonathan P. Watts.

  Arthur's Stone #1, unique c-type colour negative, 51x62cm, 2012  
  About the work:  

'Using a bespoke cardboard camera I made a series of colour negative images of Arthur’s Stone. The intention was to set up a correspondence between the sculptural qualities of the camera and raw materiality of the stone. The camera is just a cardboard box, but it has a very large lens on the front. This large lens means that a lot of detail can be recorded including the texture of the rock. Instead of using photographic film I pin sheets of colour, c-type photographic paper cut from a roll, inside the box. The record of the process is partly visible in the shadows of the pins on the image. These pinholes are used again to display the work when the paper is pinned inside the frames. The red is due to the filters I use, which are designed to make the exposure reasonably constant.  The principle being that I could make positives from them.  I didn’t.  Instead I showed the actual negative images that were made on site. For me, this stresses material nature of photography and allows some echo of the process. It correlates with very early photographic technologies and, compared to the way photographs might normally be viewed,  slows down the reading of the image.'

  Excerpt from 'Romanticising the provinces – contemporary art and the ‘heritage’ environment.' By Tom Jeffreys in The Journal of Wild Culture. November 2012  
  Produced over the course of two days, using a small van and a large cardboard box, Newth’s overexposed images are the most direct response to Arthur’s Stone. Electrified in sci-fi magenta, the stones throb with the energy of myth and semi-historical meaning. Pinned to their mounts by the same pins (still visible) used to hold the paper inside the camera, these images may be seen to foreground their own processes, and thereby the creation of meaning more generally – particularly within the context of an art world that arguably exists entirely for the proliferation of meaning-making.  
  Arthur's Stone #2, unique c-type colour negative, 51x62cm, 2012  
  Arthur's Stone #3, unique c-type colour negative, 51x62cm, 2012  
  Arthur's Stone #4, unique c-type colour negative, 51x62cm, 2012  
  Camera and Arthur's Stone  
  Installation Shot including sculpture by Katie Cuddon at Down Stairs Gallery  
  Installation Shot at Down Stairs Gallery  
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