Volcano Furnace: An Earth Work Fire Performance
Coral Penelope Lambert
My proposal is to work with raw materials directly onsite at Pedvale such as clay, earth, iron, and stone where they will take the form of an earth mound and ancient inspired iron furnace. Stone boulders will be carved and mounded whilst the interior of the earth mound will be shaped with a mixture of clay and earth to include channels for air and a mouth for molten iron so that it can be operated as a functioning iron furnace on Midsummers eve. My aim is that the ‘Volcano’ can be a platform for performance and celebration as well as a place that visitors to the park can get closer to the sky.
The ‘Volcano’ is active but will remain a dormant earthwork and sculpture after its first Midsummers firing during the Conference. It does however have the potential to be re-activated.
As an artist who utilizes the foundry as a laboratory to explore the union of concept, process and the nature of ‘things’, my work over the past 20 years has manifested itself through heat ‘n’ treat practices such as moulding, melting, casting and fabricating. I have always been interested in the elemental and transformative nature of fire and as such I see the earth itself as both a foundry and a furnace. There is a parallel that can be drawn between the mountain and the furnace as a kind of matrix. In the eyes of many ancient cultures a cave in the side of a mountain was an entrance into a sacred world, to enter into the cave to reap the ores was akin to stealing the unripe fruit of mother nature for it was believed that if they were left there then all would mature to gold. The ores are then taken to the furnace, an apparatus that could speed up the work of nature. In this case when the ‘Volcano Furnace’ is tapped out molten iron will cast diamond shaped tablets into stone molds.
This sculptural earth work ‘Volcano’ continues to investigate the idea of speeding up the work of nature which is historically connected to the story of metal casting and use of fire. My proposal has a ritual component with the potential of an annual firing, at the same time the event may become something of myths and legends.
The artifacts from the ‘Volcano’ will remain on site or nearby. The Iron that is melted in the Volcano Furnace will run down spiraling channels echoing that of lava flows, the iron will fill pre carved stone molds where a diamond shaped slab is cast. Although the light on midsummers eve will never be completely dark these will glow and remain warm for sometime. Each tap is approximately 300#.
The markings allude to ancient solar observatories such as those in New Mexico, Peru or NewGrange in Ireland. The mound will be about 12 to 10 ft high so steps are molded into the mound using compacted earth and sod, the charging of the furnace will considered a ritual component, the dress of the charging crew will be considered and their actions choreographed.
I am also interested to hear from other artists who may wish to use this as a platform for other performance aspects or to collaborate in some way.
The inspiration for ‘Volcano Furance’ comes from my research into Ancient African Furnace Designs, although a traditional cupola furnace will be used inside the mound the exterior will reflect a different aesthetic : The ‘Volcano’ Furnace will be built into an earth mound at least 10ft in height. The ‘Volcano Furnace’ will tap out #300 of Iron three times. Three mouths of the furnace will be situated half way up the earth mound so Iron will flow into specific carved channels. The furnace will be operated for the rear of the earth mound where a cut is made for access.