Category Archives: Sand

Bristol – Colour of Place

42 sand and crushed rock samples displayed in a stand made from reclaimed wood. All the samples were collected during August this year, many of them from the building site at Temple Gate.

This piece is going to be on display in Centrespace Gallery from 12-16 October as part of the Centrespace Open Studios. Please come along and say ‘hello’, I will be in studio 27 on Friday evening and all day Saturday.

Eastbourne – Colour of Place

Subtle colours collected on my walk from Eastbourne Pier to Holywell.

The bottom of this flask is filled with chalk that was collected as either small rounded chalk pebbles, or chunks of chalk that had broken off much larger boulders. I crushed the pieces in a pestle and mortar to make the powdered chalk. Some pieces crumbled almost instantly, others put up an almighty fight.

From left to right – Eastbourne sand from the middle of the beach, and then near the shore line, different coloured chalks from the cliffs, and shell sand from just past Holywell.

Bristol Colour

Test tubes filled with different coloured sands. Bristol

My sand collection, started in Australia last year (Collecting Colour) continues to grow whenever I visit the great outdoors, but I hadn’t really considered the fact that I could add to my collection whilst I was in the city.  I have been reading ‘Origins’ by Lewis Dartnell and the following sentence made me think – ‘the story of civilisation is the story of humanity digging up the fabric of the planet beneath our feet and piling it up to build our cities.   Everyday my walk to my studio takes me through the building works of Temple Gate – a huge road improvement scheme that had meant for the last two years you are never quite sure which way you will end up going to get past Temple Meads and into the city.

As I wander past in my morning or late afternoon daydream, I have seen constantly changing piles of sand, aggregate, concrete etc. as great holes and trenches  have been dug , had mysterious things happen within their depths, and then been filled in again .  But because these sands were building materials, they didn’t fit with my idea of collecting colours specific to place.  Reading the text by Dartnell made me realise that these imported sand would become the colours of Bristol.

Eurovia site, Temple Gate, Bristol

So, on a slightly soggy Tuesday at the end of August, I could be found in the company of Becky, the site Quantity Surveyor, in full fluorescent gear, searching the site for sand.  We found 24 different sands (including a lovely soft grey that Becky went out of her way to track down for me, remembering that it had been one of the first sands to be delivered to site), gravels, and rock fragments that I was able to crush into powder.  I am amazed at the variety, if asked beforehand I think I would have expected to find just one or two different types of sand on building site.

Emily Ketteringham in fluorescent jacket and hard hat
Test tubes filled with different coloured sands. Bristol

As well as adding to my test tube collection, I had enough to make this tower of sand – I feel a trip to Alum bay in the Isle of Wight might be needed…

Measuring tube filled with layers of sand from Temple Gate, Bristol

Thank you very much to all at Eurovia for letting me visit the site.

Collecting Colour

119 test tubes of sand from Western Australia collected by Emily Ketteringham
119 Small test tubes of sand and rock from Western Australia, collected over a two month period in 2018

I had been to Western Australia before in 2011, and the thing that really stuck in my mind was the colour. When we were preparing to visit again in 2018, I wanted a way of physically bringing that memory back with me. I had just finished my MA design project ‘Shifting Sands‘ where friends had been collecting sand from around the UK for me to turn into concrete pebbles. As a result, I had a house full of left over pots of sand – the perfect inspiration for a holiday project to collect colour.

Over the two months we travelled round Western Australia, I filled 119 tiny test tubes with sand, gravel, ochre, ore, and if I am very lucky, one test tube might even have tiny bits of fossilised stromatolite in it. None of my samples were taken from sacred Aboriginal sites. I found more colour, and more variety, than I could have dreamed of.

Close up of test tubes filled with sand from Western Australia

I started being restrained and collecting only one sample a day. That went out of the window on the day we found this extrodinary place by the side of the road. I think I collected 10 colours in under an hour.

Close up of test tubes filled with sand from Western Australia

I have samples from places that are contradictory – such as this iron mine
that was wondrous and horrendous at the same time.

My favourite is dark metallic sand collected with a magnet from a perfect circle
of sand around the top of an ant hole found behind Dales camp site in Karijini
National Park. Just steps away, in one of the most beautiful, magical place I
have places I have ever been to, we saw this graffiti – you do have to wonder.

Every time I look at this collection, I am back in Australia.

119 test tubes of sand from Western Australia collected by Emily Ketteringham

119 Small test tubes of sand and rock from Western Australia, collected over a two month period in 2018