Tout Quarry (aka Tout Quarry Sculpture Park) is a disused site of former 18th century stone quarries that later became a sculpture park, located on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarry stands at the north-west corner of Tophill, close to the village of Easton and is located between West Cliff and alongside the road leading to Weston village. It is found close to King Barrow Quarry which is further east. Now a Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve, the quarry displays a collection of various carvings and works in Portland Stone, carved into the living rock face e.g. Still Falling by Antony Gormley, extracted boulders, constructed from shale, or worked from the landscape.
- 1 Background
- 2 Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust
- 3 Sculptures
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
- 7 Gallery
Tout Quarry worked commercially from circa 1750 as one of eighty working quarries on Portland. It was worked for the famous Portland stone, used for important buildings in London and around the world, from St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace to the United Nations Building in New York. The rocks exposed by quarrying are of late Jurassic age, 135-140 million years old, and many parts of the quarry show the natural rock sequence with both Purbeck and Portland limestones. The name "Tout" was taken the Latin meaning for "look-out", relating to the quarry's position alongside West Cliff.
The quarry was originally worked by hand by family quarry gangs, who owned strips of land called "lawnsheds". Using natural joints, they worked hard to extract the best stone, Whit Bed and Base Bed, from 30 to 60 feet down. "Winning the Stone" meant that much overburden and waste rock had to be removed without the use of complex machinery or explosives. The poor quality stone was stacked by the quarrymen in massive dry stone walls seen throughout the quarry. These are largely made of Portland Limestone, Chert and Roach, but in places smaller blocks of Purbeck Slatt Beds have been used. Overlooking the Chesil Bank, the quarry was conveniently placed for much of the waste stone to be tipped over the cliff edge onto the West Weares below. The quarry largely ceased work in 1920. However the 260 year old quarry workings were last worked in 1982 for a boulder contract when 30,000 tons were excavated from the quarrymen's banking for sea defenses.
World War II Coastal Defence/Chain Home Low radar station
In the northern section of Tout Quarry, a World War II Coastal Defence/Chain Home Low (CD/CHL) radar station was built along West Cliff. The station, named site M73, was constructed by the British Army to monitor shipping and aircraft during the war. The equipment, technically known as the AMES Type 2, was originally developed for the British Army as a system to detect ships, as well as the early detection of low-level targets, and as a system for tracking individual aircraft over land. CD/CHL sites opened from 1941 and comprised a brick or concrete operations block with an aerial gantry mounted on the roof and a separate standby set house for the reserve power. It has been suggested the M73 site had underground workings. The site was operated by the RAF. Staff were billeted where possible, but some stations had a small layout of domestic hutting situated within one mile of the site.
After the war, during the early 1950s, the station was used as part of the ROTOR project, possibly as a R/T (TX and RX) site. This air defence radar system was built by the British Government to counter possible attack by Soviet bombers. The system was built up primarily of war-era radar systems, and was used only briefly before being eventually replaced by the more modern Linesman/Mediator system. After the ROTOR period, the Royal Navy took control of the station for assistance in air to ground communication, serving the heliport at RNAS Portland (HMS Osprey), which was established in 1959.
After its use by the navy, the station was demolished, with aerial photography from 1968 revealing it had been removed by that point. However today a small number of constructions remain of the site, including brick rubble (thrown into a nearby ravine), mast bases, power cables, a duct cable entry, and also a possible sewage sedimenter. The site was spread over two consecutive summits, with each having a set of concrete steps leading to the tip of the summits. As part of the same station, a second mast was also erected further south along West Cliff. Though this mast has also been removed, the mast bases remain. Between 1983-85, as part of the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park established in 1983, Christine Fox chose one of the summits for her sculpture Serpent Steps and Alignment, a construction in shale and standing stones.
A similar station to M73 was situated at East Cliff, near The Grove village, named M72. The two buildings at this site survives today. In addition to this, the RAF Portland ROTOR Radar Station was initially a Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL) radar station too.
Establishment as a sculpture park
Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust began the sculpture park in 1983 - a year after the last workings - saving the quarry from further mineral extraction with the creation of sculptures, and the park officially opened in that year. The objective of the trust was to integrate sculptures into the landscape, originally quarried by hand, where evidence of geological time has been revealed through the quarrying process. Upon establishment Tout Quarry was Britain's first sculpture quarry. The quarry, along with King Barrow, is also one of only two remaining quarries where Portland stone was quarried using old methods. Therefore the landscape left to explore has been recognised as important for geology, industrial archaeology, nature conservation and sculpture.
Jonathan Phipps, of Ambient (Art Consultants), the initiator and organiser of the park, had conjured with the idea of an open workshop and sculpture site for a number of years. With his own house on Portland, where he painted in the summer, he had become particularly fascinated by the ravaged quarry landscape. The clifftop site seemed a unique arena in which sculptors might create work that would both enhance and be integrated with the landscape. Both the quarry stone and imported materials would be used. These dreams were spurred into reality with the launching of the Beautiful Britain Campaign 1983, of which Tout Quarry's project became a major feature. One of the first sculptors who responded enthusiastically to the project was Phillip King, Head of the Royal College of Art Sculpture School, who saw the possibility of realising a pilot project in his long term plans for a School of Environmental and Landscape Sculpture.
Many of the original site specific sculptures can still be discovered today, although some didn't last much longer than a year. Temporary works and installations also forms part of the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust yearly artists residency programme. The sculptures are often situated in places providing vantage points from which the viewer can experience where sculpture, geology and quarrying meet. The man-made landscape has also been an inspiration for many of the sculptural ideas. In addition a network of labyrinths and gullies are within the quarry, and these reveal sculptures and carvings. The art is either carved into the original rock face, extracted boulders, or constructed from shale within the landscape itself. To date, Tout Quarry remains a creative and educational resource for visitors, schools, colleges and universities who come to learn about stone through the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust.
In 2012, the quarry was used as part of the trust's 'Stone Island - Stone is Land' programme of 15 events approved by Inspire Mark London 2012. This included being the host of two performances by Anthony Hewitt of classical piano music with contemporary dance from students at Royal Manor Arts College and masterclass for young people. The Hewitt performance was one of 26 recitals that formed part of his fund-raising cycle tour from 9–29 May from Lands End to John O'Groats.
Marina Vaizey of the Sunday Times spoke of the sculpture park on 31 July 1983, commenting: "At Portland, the enterprise is literally taking shape; some sculpture has been brought in, but the strength resides in the quarries being used as outdoor studio workshops. There is something intensely vital and appealing about this whole experiment, deeply respectful to its surroundings and full of living teaching: And some of the sculpture is outstandingly beautiful and affecting. What some of the artists have learned here will reverberate in their work to come."
W. J. Strachan, in the 1984 book Open Air Sculpture in Britain, commented: "From the point of view of the present Guide, the park is important, Dorset otherwise having little Sculpture to show and also because several of the sculptors represented elsewhere in this Guide, e.g. Christine Fox, Michael Kenny, Gerald Laing, have pieces on loan for the present exhibition and others have permanent pieces sited here. The organisers have exploited the potential of this difficult terrain in a practical way to match the imaginative ideas of the sculptors."
Lewis Biggs, within an essay for Open Air Sculpture in Britain: Twentieth Century Developments, stated "In this respect, the temporary sculpture parks at Tout Quarries in Portland (1983) and at the International Garden Festival in Liverpool (1984) must rank among the best achievements for outdoor sculpture in this country so far. Whatever the quality of individual pieces of work, the organisers and sculptors agreed that each sculpture should be site-specific and were made, often on site, with this end in view."
In the Dorset Evening Echo of 22 September 1983, it was revealed that the Contemporary Art Society showed such enthusiasm for the park that they spent much longer examining the works than had been intended, not leaving themselves enough time to explore Portland before catching the train back to London. Speaking on behalf of the visitors, the Society's organising secretary, Petronilla Silver, said that they all considered the project terrific and that it showed a marvellous and imaginative use of the environment.
Remaining industrial relics
The majority of the site is formed by an uneven landscape of working faces, massive stone revetment walls retaining waste overburden, and flat-topped spoil heaps. Many features from past quarrying still remain in Tout Quarry, including signs of old tramways, hidden shelters made by quarrymen, tunnel entrances, and the "Beaches", which are constructed dry stone walls. The gullies linking the quarry to the cliff-edge allowed two-way traffic, and stone was carried along the cliff edge by a horse-drawn tramway to Priory corner. From there it would join the Merchant's Railway down to Castletown, to be shipped off across the world. Any waste stone and overburden from the quarry was taken through the gullies to the cliff-edge and tipped over. The remains of the tipping bridges can be seen today. The horse drawn and cable operated incline railway, known as Merchant's Railway, opened in 1826 for the stone trade on the island, and was the earliest railway on Portland and in Dorset.
Along West Cliff and within certain parts of the quarry, mainly around the northern edge, there are also tramway blocks, essentially stone setts, some with iron pegs, which held the rails on either side. Throughout the quarry are the remains of many quarryman's huts, built into retaining walls. The remains of a railway junction are preserved at the east end of the site. This end of the quarry is where two large round-headed tunnel entrances remain.
Lano's Bridge is one notable example, and was built in the mid-1800s to carry a high level tramway taking stone waste to the cliff edge. The arch of the bridge fronts one of several stone-walled gullies, or ravines, leading to West Cliff. It is dated 1854, and is set between natural rock revetments where the track was cut through. A flight of 27 concrete steps descends by the south abutment. The name Lano occurs amongst the inscriptions in the churchyard to St. George Reforne; this is a well-built structure with some design pretension in an abandoned quarry area. After severe vandalism in the late 1980s, the bridge was reconstructed where it remains in good condition today. The bridge became Grade II Listed in May 1993.
With further work to link up Portland's disused public quarries as part of the Portland Quarry Trail project, in 2010 it was decided to unblock an old tramway tunnel to provide a pedestrian walkway under the main road from Tout Quarry to Inmosthay Quarry. In addition, the route of the Merchant's Railway behind Tillycombe had been opened up as well as the tramway route into King Barrow Quarries.
The quarry has been reclaimed by nature and wildlife. The scree slopes, grassy glades and sheltered gullies of the quarry provides a haven for wildlife, and in the spring and early summer the quarry becomes colourful with many low growing, flowering plants such as Eyebright and Thyme. In turn butterflies are attracted to the nectar and food plants, whilst the warm slopes and dry stone walls are popular wiwth the common lizard and slow-worms. A wide range of moths, including the day-time flying Burnet moths and Hummingbird Hawkmoth are seen in the quarry. The latter is an immigrant from southern Europe. The rocks and open bare soil areas of the quarry are home to uncommon lichen species. Taller scrub of Wild Privet, Buddleia, Wayfaring Tree, Sycamore and the non-native Cotoneaster are found in Tout, although the latter is being removed where possible as it is highly invasive and will lead to the loss of important grassland areas.
The landscape has been slowly colonized by limestone grassland with low growing herbs such as the Small Scabious, Squinancywort, Horse shoe and Kidney Vetch, and Bird's foot Trefoil. The latter plant is important to a particular race of Silver-studded Blue butterfly, unique to Portland. Other butterfly species are dependent on the sparse turf and stony soils which suit their caterpillar food plants including Chalkhill Blue and the rare Adonis Blue. The Grayling butterfly is often seen sunning on patches of bare ground, its wings closed for camouflage. At the beginning of the 21st century, the nearby, and similarly landscaped, King Barrow Quarry became a Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve.
Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust
The Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust is an artist led organisation that has developed an international venue for sculpture in stone. It was formed in 1983 when the quarry was turned into a park. The Trust is dedicated to preserving a knowledge and understanding of all aspects of stone and the landscape from which it comes. The trust achieves this by running a yearly programme of workshops for art and architecture colleges, schools, groups, young people from the community and the general public. It operates within the quarry, where a working workshop is located. The outdoor workshop runs from May to September each year for artists all levels of skill. The workshop's yearly programme of stone carving and sculpture courses teaches skills in stone carving, direct carving, lettercutting, relief carving and architectural detail. The Drill Hall indoor stone workspace nearby is also used for this purpose. The summer workshops in particular are well-attended, by beginners and practicing artists alike.
In 2008, the Trust was the runner-up in the British Urban Regeneration Association's awards for community-inspired regeneration. In 2009, the Trust was shortlisted for the British Urban Regeneration Awards Scheme.
For 2012, the Stone Island Programme was created, based within the workshop. This programme explored landscape and stone through art, science and intercultural exchange. As part of this a Stone Carving Festival was organised.
There is estimated to be over 70 official sculptures within the quarry. These include:
- Dreaming Head and Estuary (by Keir Smith - 1983) - stone carving
- Flow Through the Rocks (by Han Sal Por) - stone carving
- Representation of a Baroque Garden (by Shelagh Wakely - 1985) - work in landscape
- Wreck (by Rosie Leventon - 1985) - work in landscape
- Philosopher's Stone (by Robert Harding - 1985) - construction in shale
- 16 Candles (by David Tuckwell) - relief carving
- Crouching Figure (by Reiko Nireki) - stone carving
- Flowing Rocks (by Harry Klar - 1983) - work in landscape
- Dry Stone Landscape (by Nick Lloyd - 1983-85) - construction in shale
- The Arena of Fools (by Kerry Trengove - 1983) - incised work
- Pterichthys (a fish out of water) (by Richard Farrington - 1985) - stone carving
- Shrine (by Hiroshi Makimara) - relief carving
- A Tear for Stone (by anonymous) - stone carving
- Seat and Boat (by Mike Hick - 1983) - stone carving
- Yogi Seeker (by S. Chandrasekeran) - constructed in shale
- Wessex (by Andrews Kirkby - 1983) - hill figure, shale with limed cement
- Chair (by Simon Foster-Ogg - 1985) - stone carving
- Serpent Steps and Alignment (by Christine Fox - 1983-85) - construction in shale and standing stones
- Among the Stars that Hide and Seek (by Alain Ayres) - relief carving
- Sentimental Arch (by Barbara Ash) - stone carving
- Cornucopia (by Clare Stratton - 1985) - high relief
- Mirrored Sun (by Chris O'Neil & students from Wimbledon School of Art - 1985) - work in landscape
- A Homage to Lichen (by Patrick Howett) - stone carving and cast cement
- Sunstone (by Phil Nicol - 1985) - stone carving
- Flying the Kite (by Mary Kenny - 1985) - stone carving
- Window (by Justin Nicol - 1992) - stone carving
- Iguana (a.k.a. Lizard) (by John Roberts) - stone carving
- Chesil (by Chris O'Neil) - stone carving
- Stone Whirlpool (by Amanda Glover - 1985) - work in landscape
- Stitch in Time (by Graham Westfield) - drilled stone and rope
- Vessel (by Gerard Wilson - 1983) - stone carving
- Fallen Fossil (by Stephen Marsden) - stone carving
- Orobous (by Jan Nunn) - high relief
- Ascent (by Joe Hamilton) - stone carving
- Stone of the Summer Solstice (by Roger Davies) - Portland stone dust/cast cement
- Plant Form (by Sylvia Stuart) - stone carving
- Waterfall (by Hamish Horsley - 1983) - construction in shale
- Calendar Stone (by Barry Mason - 1983) - sawn stone
- History Lesson (by Angelo Bordonan) - stone carving
- Zen Garden (by Phillip King & students from the Royal College of Art - 1983) - work in landscape
- From the Ruins (by Lorna Green - 1985) - construction in shale and stone
- Water Bowl (by Valerie Josephs - 1983) - stone carving
- Woman on Rock (by Dhruva Mistry - 1983) - incised work
- Be Stone No More (by Pierre Vivant - 1985) - stone carving
- Still Falling (by Antony Gormley - 1983) - incised work
- Ribbed Form (by David Kelly) - stone carving
- Leaning Torso (by Hennie Hansel) - stone carving
- Hearth (by Timothy Shutter - 1989) - stone carving
- Drinking Bowl (by Jonathan Sells) - stone carving
- Horizontal Figure (by anonymous) - stone carving
- The Green Man (by Valentine Quinn - 1985) - stone carving
- Searchlights (by Michael Farrell) - stone carving
- The Beauty of Surveillance (by James Harries) - relief carving
- Cirkel van Stenen (Stone Circle) (a collection of sculptures by Groupe 85 from the Netherlands)
- Antony Gormley was the first artist to work in the quarry in 1983, when he created the carving "Still Falling". This was a life-size figure incised into the rock face on a remaining island of un-quarried rock. The figure was purposely distanced from the viewer by the depth of the quarried space below. Gormley commented in 1983: "The quarry itself is a powerful inspiration and tribute to the small bands of men that worked it, using blocks and wedges as well as natural layering and fissuring to cut the stone. Their technique (using neither complex machinery nor explosives) was a mixture of science, intuition and hard team work that is a model for us all... Working with stone is a fine job. Working on stone in a quarry is a challenge. You have to consider the material as a part of the place; as part of the earth." He also said "Tout was for me, and the young sculptors I took from Brighton, an inspirational experience not only in terms of first hand working with natural materials in their place of origin, but because of its peculiar beauty. The works carved in situ have a unique dialogue with their environment, and I think that Tout, both in terms of its history as a quarry, and its recent history as an open air sculpture workshop, is unique resource for both artists and the public." He later recalled in 1993: "It was the most energetic summer I spent. In contrast to Paul Cooper's extraordinarily focused project, everyone seemed to disappear in different directions, and emerged in the evening. I haven't worked in stone again. I found it difficult to recreate the kind of excitement that I felt here. I have a crane bring some sea-formed boulders and carved the Man Rock series, shallow reliefs based on the body, left at the point where one was still very conscious of the mass of the rock form sculpted by the force of nature and by a human being."
- The stone carving "Dreaming Head and Estuary" by Keir Smith stands on the highest landform in the quarry, which was built and stacked by quarrymen. It is a carved estuary in a large boulder of cap stone, channeling elemental forces of the wind towards the dreaming head, which gazes out at sea. Smith commented in 1983: "This wonderful site provided the inspiration for the sculpture as well as the materials to make it. The site is permeated by the history of stone, fine stone won to construct beautiful buildings: wandering around the City or through Greenwich I connect the Isle of Portland with Wren or Hawksmoor. In Portland evidence of the formation of the stone is everywhere; giant ammonites spiral through this raised sea floor; the Portland Sculpture Quarry makes it possible to learn how to make a sculpture, often ambitious in scale; but Tout is supremely a stimulus for the imagination." Later in 1993 he recalled: "I regard the period I spent at Portland as a learning experience. Most of the processes of stone carving were taught to me by another artist on the project at the time. The pressure wasn't on to make finished pieces of work. In my case it was a way of learning how to deal with the vast masses of material – the piece of capstone which made Estuary weighed in the region of seven tons. I found that quite exhilarating."
- "Flow Through the Rocks" by Han Sal Por uses water as an analogy. The lines carved through the rocks, visually follow the line of the horizon, by linking extracted boulders and conveying a sense of movement like flowing water.
- "Among the Stars that Hide and Seek", a relief carving by Alain Ayres, was inspired by the poem of "Skylark" Durston.
- "The Arena of Fools" by Kerry Trengove features incised images symbolising an arena of past and the present - including cave paintings, holy symbols and weapons of destruction.
- Stephen Marsden, creator of the "Fallen Fossil" carving, commented in 1985: "The piece resembles a fossil only vaguely, it is more a symbolic architectural statement which implies a positive column form with flower-like capital having originated from a wall or face of living stone. The positive image lies on the ground in three fragments. In the light in which the two elements, vertical and horizontal, share a partnership, the grounded and fragmented column might be seen as the more passive element, the vertical more assertive." Later in 1993 he recalled: "Fallen Fossil looks back towards fossils, and forwards towards architecture. For me, Tout is a place of reflection. You think of London as a positive sculpture – you can't think of it without this stone, the positive outcome of this negative space here. In terms of the future – for me it was the experience of working collaboratively, this wealth of material, this wealth of space – a contrast to perennially under-resourced, over-crowded art schools. Stone has such a very strong feeling of permanence, of geological time."
- "Be Stone No More" by Pierre Vivant features flow-stone or tufa, where water has run down the rock face depositing calcite, similar to the way stalactites are formed in caves. Vivant commented in 1985: "A fascinating aspect of the quarries is the confrontation of the quarry faces and the chaotic walls made of the piling up of the rejected blocks of stone, the space between them reminding one of the architectural landmarks quarried out of it. I have carved large imprints of Doric columns on both types of faces as a kind of fossil mark, reuniting the two sides through the memory of the absent stone."
- Valentine Quinn, creator of the stone carving "The Green Man", revealed in 1985: "The green man symbolises the spirit of renewal in nature - carved into a roach stone embedded with fossils, with hair of ivy branches, leaves and roots... places like Tout Quarry, part man-made, reclaimed by wildness, are becoming few and far between. It is up to us to nurture and protect them, and above all, treat them with respect, to give back some peace to the earth."
- The working in landscape "Representation of a Baroque Garden" originally had running water in it. The creator Shelagh Walkely commented in 1985: "Above all at Portland one needs to be resourceful; perhaps because it is such a unique and extraordinary place, one wants to complement it with something equally wonderful." Later in 1993 she recollected: "It's not so much the influence of the actual piece, but up until then I'd always made very small pieces. I learnt I had the capacity for very tough physical work."
- Timothy Shutter, creator of "Hearth", commented in 1989: "The sculpture provides an incongruous corner of domestic comfort within the exposed setting of the quarry; the fire surround refers back to a time when the quarry was being actively worked, functioning as a memorial to the lives and skills of a generation of Portlanders."
- The sculpture "Wessex" by Andrews Kirkby is a hill figure of the helicopter of the same name, shale with limed cement. This was a tribute to Portland's own Royal Naval Air Station HMS Osprey, which would later close in 1999. The figure is currently in need of restoration, despite plans being put forward in 2008 to renew the feature. In 1983 Kirkby revealed "My work recently has been concerned with the revival of old techniques such as repossé. At the time I came to Portland I was interested in turf cuttings. My interest was reinforced by the presence of a hill figure just outside Weymouth and the nearby Cerne Abbas Giant. The choice image was in response to the site. The aspect of the knoll facing west is dominated by a spectacular view of Chesil Beach. The nearby helicopter base is situated in the 'under-cliff' town of Fortuneswell. Day and night flights take the helicopter parallel to the knoll and cannot fail to draw one's attention visually and audibly. In my mind the helicopters are part of the local people's lives, whether they like it or not, and are as relevant to this small community, as the white horses were to the local Celts. One criticism that I received while I was making the cutting was that I was producing an image of a war machine. My answer was that the greatest war machine causing the most devastating upheavals in world history has been the horse. In fact the very horse that our ancient ancestors worshipped and cut into hill sides."
- An example of a sculpture that did not exist for long is the "Cosmic Egg" by Andrew Logan - a sculpture made of wood, resin and mirrored glass.
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