Saturday, 25 April 2015

Elemental, my idea

I spent a few days on the Isle of Man this week. I'd never been before, so it was all new territory to explore and the weather was fabulous - more like June than April. As part of my grand tour (if the traversing of such a small island can be called that with any justification), I visited the stunning Laxey Valley with its imposing wheel, which I'd only ever glimpsed as a graphic on the titles to the local BBC Northwest News programme.

Laxey housed a mining community in the 18th and 19th centuries, with two significant shafts sunk nearly half a mile deep into large veins of ore. The elements being mined by a workforce of 1,000 men were huge quantities of zinc (a fifth of the UK's production), large amounts of lead and substantial copper deposits. By the mid-1870s the Great Laxey Mine was one of the most successful metal mines in Britain and production continued right up until its eventual closure in 1929.

The major problem with deep mines was flooding, so the Laxey Wheel, actually known as 'Lady Isabella' was designed by Manx engineer Robert Casement to pump water out of the mineshafts. It is the world's biggest water-wheel with a diameter of over 22 metres and when it was on active duty it drove the pump-rods which forced water out of the mines.

Nowadays this huge wheel is preserved as a heritage site and looks like something out of a 1950s science-fiction film-set (see the photograph below).

So there you have it, my take on the elemental - both in terms of the sheer scale of the device and the ultimate purpose it served, helping to extract elements from deep in the lode.

To accompany it, here is a piece of elemental nonsense which I formulated at the recent Pop Art/Collage poetry workshop at the Grundy Art Gallery - phrases re-assembled at (seeming) random from a tiered collage we created by mining magazines for interesting words, phrases and images. I think it works...

Elemental, my idea...
A rebel point of view,
you've got it all wrong.
Space is just the beginning...
content within context,
the new season iconic.
Your favourite escape
doesn't have to be
a faraway place.
kick it, push it,
night and day;
eat, sleep and die
intrinsic dialogue,
mounting ethereal.
Angry Nepalese sunflower god,
a Faraday grace,
ambiguous mad genius
packing serious firepower,
think killers don't know you?
Get a facelift!
London films while Asia frustrates.
Hit the off switch.

Thanks for reading. Have a good week, S :-)