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.
Marie Chantal Hamrock‘s There is Something in the Ground, There is Something in the Sky, employs fiction as method, mining history to create an alternate future from symbolic double meanings.
The archival film PLUTO: Corby’s role in making the Pipeline Under The Ocean tells the story of a feat of engineering during which steel pipes made in Corby Steelworks were secretly laid across the bed of the English Channel to pump fuel from England to the Allied Forces in France.
However, Marie unearths another connection. In classical mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld, who carries a bident or pitchfork. He was also the god of deep earth and mineral riches, such as the iron ore needed to produce the steel pipes.
Marie highlights the pitchfork’s double meaning – a symbol of Pluto and a symbol of harvest. “An object to connect the netherworld from which the ore was harvested to the celestial body that floats above. An object that positions itself between the earth and sky, as a means of viewing both the inferno below and the firmament above.”
In There is Something in the Ground, There is Something in the Sky, the pitchfork functions like a telescope, rotating to observe a different region of the sky or the earth; a lens to locate and magnify.
“Pluto’s rays cut through the pitchfork and seep into the ground, charging the iron ore…”
Marie notes “the process of rotating a telescope to observe a different region of the sky is referred to as slewing and in crane terminology, slewing is the angular movement of a crane boom or crane jib in a horizontal plane.” This is encompassed in both the editing process and the timeless and circular narrative of There is Something in the Ground, There is Something in the Sky.
A strong and lasting association between Corby and Scotland began in the 1930s, when there was a large influx of men and their families who came to work in Corby Steelworks. Acknowledging this history, Marie worked with artist and collaborator from Grays School of Art in Aberdeen Élodie Baldwin for narration, rather than relying on her own half-American, half-Irish accent.
Later discovering that the Pluto scheme was actually related to Anglo-Iraqi deals in the Middle East, Marie adds, “It was one of those moments where everything feels synchronised. It almost feels as though the film was made in some cosmic space between Aberdeen, Glasgow, Corby, Dublin and Iraq.”