As part of our In Steps of Sundew programme, exploring the push and pull between nature and human presence and the effect that extracting resources from the landscape has upon those living within it, the artists were invited to remix four Corby heritage films to create new narratives through the extraction of archival film material.
Amanda Loomes, civil engineer turned artist, juxtaposes extracts from Double Harvest, The Great Jib and Iron Ore in Britain with her own previously unseen footage filmed at the Ketton Cement Works in Rutland in 2017. The resulting film, Combine, shines a light on unseen labour to challenge complacency surrounding industry’s use of human resources.
At the Ketton Cement Works, Amanda learnt that a significant challenge in cement manufacture is securing a consistent supply of high calorific fuel for the kilns. One primary substitute fuel is meat and bone meal (MBM) from the meat processing industry.
In Double Harvest, we get fleeting glimpses of the workers as they yield to the Sisyphean task of feeding the blast furnaces, poorly protected by limited Personal Protective Equipment, sweating, their own meat and bone thrust between machine parts. Amanda suggests, “On this cement and steel the development of Corby rests.”
In Combine, snippets from conversations Amanda had with the workers at Ketton sit amongst the authoritative narration of the archive films, giving voice to the silent workers. Stitching combinations of extracts from Double Harvest, The Great Jib and Iron Ore in Britain with her own footage merges past and present to imaginatively explore continuity and ambiguity of purpose.
The synchronicity between scenes echoes the thoughts of the late Tony Benn: “Every generation must fight the same battles again and again. There’s no final victory and there’s no final defeat.”