Kirkstone Quarry, photographed with Carl Radford

Kirkstone Quarry  2

Kirkstone Quarry, photographed with Carl Radford

A special commission by Kirkstone Quarry.

Rock extraction and architectural stone production takes place at the main quarry on Kirkstone Pass over 500m above sea level. Further production facilities for bespoke items are located at Skelwith Bridge near Ambleside. The team are comprised of a workforce of over 40 skilled personnel who encompass experienced rockhands, sawyers, polishers and masons, some are captured here using the powerfully evocative 19th Century process of Wet Plate Collodion.

Kirkstone’s primary materials are their green and blue-black slates. The former, a unique composition of volcanic material layered down some 450 million years ago, is found only in relatively small deposits within the Lake District. Intense compression led to metamorphosis into a dense and highly durable rock with great lateral strength. Kirkstone’s green and blue-black slates create considerable advantages for architectural applications over softer sedimentary stones and slates. Structurally there are very few natural materials which equal the ability to survive atmospheric pollution, extremes of high and low temperatures, urban and maritime locations, acid rain and sand bearing winds.

The collodion process is an early photographic process. It was introduced in the mid 19th century and almost entirely replaced the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype. During the 1880s the collodion process, in turn, was largely replaced by gelatin dry plates. The “collodion wet plate process”, is a very inconvenient form of photography that requires the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field. The collodion process is said to have been invented by Frederick Scott Archer in about 1850.

carrie emberlyn