interpreting place

Re-Drift-colour-17 Re-Drift-colour-41


From Mainsgate Road to Hodbarrow


Ever waiting hidden life, wrenching back to claim the land our place, restored.



‘But inches below

The enveloping film

Between  brine and vapour

The lesser energies

Explode into self-propulsion

Single cells

Developing fins

Tentacles, tails;

A tiny octopus

Rayed like the sun

That moves as the sun can’t’


Extract from Plankton by Norman Nicholson from series in the Shadow of Black Combe 1978


In contribution to the Re-Drift online exhibition three temporary site-specific artworks

were created and curated by Irene Rogan, selecting fragments from Norman Nicholson's poetic works and landscape photography by Phillip Green .  The artworks were all produced in response to the experience of place; specifically the intellectual and emotional  engagement with Hodbarrow a site formerly dominated by industrial iron ore extraction and situated near the town of Millom in South West Cumbria.  The ironworks closed during the 1960 and following the removal of all the buildings and machinery the site has largely been reclaimed by nature.  It is now the location of an RSPB sanctuary and nature reserve.


The first series of images 'Bloody Cranes-bill' drew inspiration from a work by the Millom poet Norman Nicholson.  The work examines the tracery of former industry and land use as it is interwoven into and amongst the now restorative vegetation.


The second series of images  'Between Brine and Vapour' introduces a theme often incorporated into Irene's work.  Specifically, Irene examines the way in which elements of the natural world are often unique to their location but only become visible when viewed under a microscope.  The photographs follow the process of collecting both fresh and sea water from Hodbarrow alongside the microscopic specimens this activity produced.


The final series of images 'Flaming Fleeces' reflect on the landscapes visible from Hodbarrow and against which industrial Hodbarrow is set in constant juxtaposition.  These are landscapes in which it is possible to trace human settlement back over thousands of years and in which ways of living are subject to an ongoing process of adapting.  Specifically, flaming fleeces offers a lament to the region's heritage as a wool producer; it reflects upon the ways in which this once valued fibre has now become little more than a waste product.

Water Collection  at Hodbarrow broken inner barrier


clinging to cliff Re-Drift-colour-63 Re-Drift-colour-16 Re-Drift-colour-51 Re-Drift-colour-32 Re-Drift-colour-1 Re-Drift-colour-25 withought Irene

Hodbarrow Quarry Wall


A drift mine is an underground mine in which the entry or

access is above water level and generally on the slope of a hill, driven horizontally into the ore seam.

An exploration of the waters surrounding Hodbarrow through water collection, observation and microscopy

Looking out from Towsey Drift mine




A barren slack of clay is slurried and scaled-out over

All that living fracas of top-soil and rock. A town's

Purpose subsides with the mine; my father and my Uncle Jim

Lie a quarter of a century dead; but out on its stubborn skerry,

In a lagoon of despoliation, that same flower.

Still grows today.


The Bloody Cranesbill

Norman Nicholson

OCHRE AND PINK1 Re-Drift-Fleeces re-drift-Finished-69 rocks towsey micro1ss IRENE FLEECED IRENE FLEECED 1 Re-Drift-Irene-6 16) WALL AND MICRO1a fleeced 5_133704 17) BLACK PIPE ORANGE re-drift-Finished-67

Flaming Fleeces is Irene Rogan's  response to the current plight of Cumbrian farmers – who are burning and burying fleeces - unable to sell them in the UK, where market-value is just forty pounds for six-hundred fleeces.


The work is an exploration of a contentious issue within the agricultural community and the strong opposition to sheep farming, through long-term problems with agricultural industry in UK.


Burning a number of fleeces was a significant act - part of a series of interventions - giving exposure to the amount of waste and loss - loss in a practical and financial terms of the rearing of sheep, and through that of the burning of an organic, sustainable, biodegradable material.

1 flaming shore 4 kayak film strip3 re-drift-Finished-56 the rocks shore


Norman Nicholson Estate

Beckside Farm, Whicham Valley

Lowscales Farm, Millom

Jem Freiesleben

Duane Farren

The Freshwater Biological Association, Hawkshead

Adam Day The Farmer Network, Cumbria


Above Left Photo Philip Green & Microscopy Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photos: Philip Green

Microscopy and landscape Photos: Irene Rogan

Photos: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Irene Rogan

Photo: Philip Green

Apologies for sound quality, the interview is a recorded zoom meeting, levels vary and  loud from one speaker to the other

Double click to insert title text here ...

Interview with Adam Day managing Director The Farmer Network Cumbria

Poetry extracts Norman Nicholson, research and texts,  main photographs of fleeces, lanscape with  microscopy  by Irene Rogan



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