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Charles Danby & Rob Smith, installation view of The Quarry (Detail) at IMT Gallery, 2014

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, installation view of The Quarry (Detail) at IMT Gallery, 2014

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Conglomerate Leave Stone, 2013 (Detail)
C-print, acrylic, chalk, red chalk, wood, glass, pond water, haematite (118x 88x253cm)

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Conglomerate Leave Stone, 2013 (Detail)
C-print, acrylic, chalk, red chalk, wood, glass, pond water, haematite (118x 88x253cm)

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Conglomerate Leave Stone, 2013 (Detail)
C-print, acrylic, chalk, red chalk, wood, glass, pond water, haematite (118x 88x253cm)

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Discovering Neptune, 2012
Anaglyph video (33mins 35secs, 16:9) 



IMT Gallery, London
03 May -02 June 2013



York, Yorkshire, England. This is the quarry, our quarry, your quarry,

The Quarry is a continuing collaboration between Charles Danby and Rob Smith exploring the site of Robert Smithson’s artwork Chalk Mirror Displacement, which was produced for the ICA, London, exhibition When Attitudes Become Form in 1969. In 2011 Charles Danby and Rob Smith entered an archive in search of the site of an artwork. In 2012 they travelled to York, Yorkshire, England and they entered the quarry-

-We like you have travelled to York, to Yorkshire, to England. We like you have turned and returned. We like you make believe. We like you have seen chalk, have seen ourselves through the mirror, and have become a displacement within a cut landscape. We like you see the quarry, and we like you are quarry.

Room 1:
Quarry 1 (2013) is a room featuring works produced during Danby and Smith’s exploration of the quarry. These include a rotating projected panorama, mirror screens, split chalk and anaglyph video.

Room 2:
Quarry 2 (2013) exists within a room. It is three stacked tables that support, contain and display images and objects of and from the site of the quarry. Central to the work are a series of triangulated photographs – the artist, the object, the artist. These three part photographs, folded and internally mirrored, have been taken as the artists have navigated the quarry in search of its artwork. Viewed through glass they form a physical network of generative pathways, routes and intersections. Set across multiple layers or strata the work introduces material elements including haematite, red chalk and pond water.



Split chalk: 
Chalk is a porous material that takes in water from its environment. When this water freezes it causes the stone to fracture into two or more parts. A chalk rock is divided in two parts and the missing section of each is printed onto the corresponding cut surface of the other. Its image is seen in three dimensions.

An image that embodies two perspectives in the single plane of its surface.

A point in space, an object, can only be determined by its position relative to two other points in space. An object that is photographed at the same moment in time by each artist describes three respective points or positions. Two images of a photographed object are placed through red/cyan channels to establish a single anaglyph image.

Pond water: 
Darwin postulated that life evolved from the primordial water of shallow ponds. Such water is the lifeblood of succession and the generative growth of living systems. In remote areas of the quarry rivulets and fauna are to be found, with thickets, brush and saplings yielding to woodland trees and forest.

An ecological pathway through which ecosystems increase in complexity over time. The archetype describes pioneer species such as moss and lichen taking hold on bare rock, being overtaken by grasses, then shrubs and moving towards the climax community of the forest.

Red chalk: 
An early cretaceous limestone found in the east of England. Derived from haematite it is sanguine blood-like chalk used for underpainting and as a preferred drawing material of the Renaissance period.

A naturally occurring anomaly in chalk strata. It is the mineral form of iron oxide occurring in faults and spaces left during the geological compression of shells, coccoliths. It emerges, excavated, in small meteorite-like crystalline lumps.

The mirror holds the world to the power of two. The image becomes the product of itself. Artist2, Quarry2, Artwork2, Audience2,(York, Yorkshire, England)2. The mirror’s screen becomes the conduit between the two.

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Quarry Triangulation (Set of 3), 2013, C-print (size variable)

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, installation view of Oxted England at Vanilla Galleries, 2012    

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, installation view of Oxted England at Vanilla Galleries, 2012    


2 Queens Leicester, 4 - 21 July 2012


A new collaboration between Charles Danby and Rob Smith exploring the site of Robert Smithson’s Chalk Mirror Displacement produced for When Attitudes Become Form, 1969 at the ICA London. ‘Like two men exploring Neptune’. 

The artists present a record of their findings when working with the site of Smithson’s only significant earthwork to be made in England through anaglyph film making, photography and installation, drawn in by the mystery surrounding the often-misrepresented work.



Discovering Neptune (2012). 2 Channel Video, 34 mins
Moon Rock #1 (2012).  Anaglyph photograph in 3 parts
Orbital (2012). Chalk, Mirrors, single channel video
Dinosaur Triangulation (2012) c-print in 3 parts
Oxted Yorkshire (2012) live website image 

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, installation view of Oxted England at Vanilla Galleries (Detail), 2012    

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Conglomerate Leave Stone, 2013 
C-print, acrylic, chalk, red chalk, wood, glass, pond water, haematite (118x 88x253cm)

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, extract from Parallel Cipher, 2014, 16: 9 Video    

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Orbital 2012, single channel video, still frame motion panorama

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, slides for Lost Quarry, 2014, left/cyan and right/red twin slide projection onto perspex

Shown at: 

2014, Vane Gallery, Newcastle, in the exhibition Eulogy curated by Zara Worth and LUME Projects (Craig Mayhew, David Meadows, Andrew Potts), 25 April – 17 May 

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, CDRS1 LIME KILN, 2014, Postcard



CDRS1 LIME KILN (2014) is a postcard that presents two separate images taken by the artists, colour separated, meshed and colour removed, of the disused and disintegrating limekilns on the northern side of Lindisfarne. The kilns are partially buried monuments to an intensive industrial working site that is far removed from the current Trust and Heritage narrative that attracts both residents and visitors to the island.



Repaired Rocks #1-8 (2014) are small-scale limestone rocks that were once part of the solid geological landmass of Lindisfarne. Dispersed and separated from their source through quarrying and processes of erosion these fragments are fractured, cracked, broken and split. The rocks have gone through a process of material reparation and have been repaired by the artists. Limestone from the dormant Lindisfarne quarry has been refined to form lime mortar which has been used to restore and repair the rocks to full forms. The reparation rocks while complete through their meticulous repair can only ever be speculations that testify to an idea of an original form.



Shown at: 

2014, RETURN TO SENDERBerwick Museum and Art Gallery, 13-30 October  


Charles Danby and Rob Smith have been working collaboratively since 2011. Their work explores site and land use in the transforming industrial landscape of the UK. It draws on histories and legacies of British Land Art practices, exploring new approaches to site-based contemporary art making within the material and digital environments of bordered land sites such as quarries, islands, forests, and national parks. The work uses video, photography, social practice and digital technologies alongside curatorial and archival approaches. It investigates the ‘forming’ and ‘becoming’ of site as time-based event structure. It presents a fluid 'distributed' model of site that extends through time, scale and location, proposing plural possibilities of new relationships between human/ non-human and site/non-site.

Charles Danby studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and is a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. He is a member of NEUSCHLOSS, a group pursuing progressive gestures in exhibition making, arts pedagogy and archival futures. Projects include Das Trauman at Baltic (2015) and The Place of Dead Rhoades (2015). He was editor of Tate Tanks Programme Notes (2012) for Tate, London. Recent curatorial projects include White Lies: Estelle Thomson at Oriel Sycharth (2015),  Animated Environments at Siobhan Davies Studios (2011-12), Epilogues: It Started With A Car Crash at IMT Gallery (2011), and Grand National - Art From Britain at Vestfossen Kunstlaboritorium, Norway (2010).

Rob Smith studied at the Royal Academy Schools and is an artist and independent researcher.  Alongside his individual research he is co-director, with artist Rebecca Birch, of Field Broadcast, a live broadcast platform that developed through their independent art practices. Recent Field Broadcast project partners include; LUX, Bournemouth University, Camden Arts Centre, Near Now at the Broadway Cinema,The National Trust, Office of Experiments, In Certain Places and Wysing Arts Centre. For more information visit



Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Repaired Rock #3 (2014), Lindisfarne limestone, lime mortar

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Repaired Rock #4 (2014), Lindisfarne limestone, lime mortar

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Repaired Rock #5 (2014), Lindisfarne limestone, lime mortar

Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Repaired Rock #6 (2014), Lindisfarne limestone, lime mortar

The Edge


Programme for the Revisiting the Quarry symposium at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2014     



Revisiting the Quarry: Excavation, Legacy, Return Approaches to the histories and sites of Land Art

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

15 May 2014


This one-day symposium, led by artists Charles Danby and Rob Smith, in conjunction with the exhibition UNCOMMON GROUND: LAND ART IN BRITAIN 1966-1979 (5 April - 15 June 2014), has been organised in collaboration with the Arts Council Collection, Northumbria University and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The symposium explores Land Art in relation to contemporary practices and historical precedents. It investigates the quarry as an active physical site for the production of new artworks and for the re-visiting of past works. Bringing together theoretical and practical positions in relation to chalk and limestone quarries, it focuses on approaches leading to the making of works, films, documents, field recordings and archives. 

In the anthropocene the quarry becomes a site of new relations, that connects historical, material, technological and social revision through changing land use and post-industrial / post-ecological occupation. The day will examine the status of these quarry sites, the removal of materials, their social and physical reparation and the negotiation of their borders and thresholds in physical, legal and artistic frameworks, through to what Robert Smithson characterised as ‘an expensive non-site’ in 1969, the moon, as a speculative quarry.

Joy Sleeman, Luke Bennett, Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Mark Peter Wright, Onya McCausland, Neal White (screening), Rob La Frenais


With thanks to Arts Council Collection, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Northumbria University

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, WF4 4LG



Joy Sleeman 
Senior Lecturer at Slade School of Art, University College London, and co-curator of Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-1979 
Title: Revisiting the Quarry in the ICE Age 
 Joy’s presentation examines a number of quarry locations used by artists including The Coldstones Cut, Yorkshire (Andrew Sabin) and Oxted Quarry, Surrey (Robert Smithson), and considers the significance of quarry sites in the history of Land Art, in relation to land reparation, and more widely in our experience of life in the Anthropocene. 

Luke Bennett 
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Built Environment at Sheffield Hallum University, and Project Director of ‘Owner and climber attitudes to recreational access to abandoned quarries’ 
Title: Encountering the Law and Land Art in Abandoned Quarries - Excavation, Legacy, Return 
Luke’s presentation explores the (feint) intertwined presence of law, proprietors and enthusiastic ‘re-energisers’ within abandoned quarries. It draws on his former experiences as an environmental lawyer advising on the decommissioning and safeguarding of extractive industry sites, and on his position as an academic and active researcher of enthusiast groups who seek access to derelict spaces for recreational, creative or illicit purposes. 

Charles Danby and Rob Smith 
Charles Danby: Artist, writer, curator & Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Northumbria University. 
Rob Smith: Artist and co-director of Field Broadcast  
Title: The Quarry 
Charles and Rob’s presentation investigates the quarry as a site of active potential in relation to exploration, artwork production and the repositioning of art historical narratives. They describe a series of recent artworks produced across multiple quarry sites connected by a single geological chalk strata cutting through the East of England. And explain that these sites are also linked by the mis-archiving of a Robert Smithson artwork made in 1969, an art historical ambiguity hidden until corrected by art historian Joy Sleeman in 2010. 

Onya Maccausland 
Artist and co-researcher of Turning Landscape 
Title: Exposed 
Onya’s presentation describes a journey she made in search of chalk quarries around the M25. She outlines her relation to mineral extraction and quarrying through production and manufacture processes that focus on the materiality of colour (in the context of painting) by tracing its origins in the landscape. Her presentation was read alongside two films: Draft (2014) 1 minute 26 seconds and White Earth (Migration) (2010) 11 minutes. 

Mark Peter Wright 
Artist, Editor of Ear Room and researcher with CRIASP, London College of Communication 
Title: The un-site of sound: a continuous de-tour of place and specifics 

Mark’s presentation draws on a visit to the abandoned Swinescaif Quarry, Yorkshire in 2014. He recounts his experience, drawing on his physical and sonic investigation of the site to test fact and fiction, borders and thresholds, presence and simultaneity.,393,0,0,1,0 


Neil White 
Artist and Associate Professor in Art and Media Practice at Bournemouth University, Director of Emerge - Experimental Media Research Group, and founder of the Office of Experiments 


Rob Le Frenais 
Critic and curator at Art Catalyst, and founder of Performance Magazine
Title: Republic of the Moon. 
Quarrying the Moon Rob’s presentation discusses artworks on the Moon and anomalies of space law that are leading to the Moon's surface being a disputed territory. It draws on the announcement by the Chinese Government of its intention to industrially exploit resources on the Moon, and considers the Moon as a site for Land Art, a heritage site, and a future quarry.