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Moving Mountains

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre

Date
2013

An exploration of Kings Cross

Becky Shaw currently holds an AIR Cocheme Fellowship at Central St Martins. The Fellowship invites artists to explore an aspect of Kings Cross. Kings Cross is often seen as a terminal for travel in and out of London; however, this area has a rich domestic heritage as well as a surprisingly complex manufacturing history. Along a main route to the North from St Pancras are a variety of huge cement and concrete factories, positioned so that raw materials from the coast and the North can be brought directly to the site of production, and the resulting building material sent directly to construction sites. 

One of these companies, Lafarge Tarmac, has generously offered to host her research, allowing access to the site and work with employees. The Lafarge Tarmac manufacturing site provides an extraordinary context to see how material and social aspects of production fit together. Immense towers and huge lateral conveyor belts pull raw materials – sand and aggregate – metres into the air, and through underground channels. This huge amount of effort culminates in the material being dropped in precise amounts into mixers to make the specialist concretes and cements that literally are building London above and below ground.

While Shaw makes work in a ‘dematerialised’ or ‘engaged’ tradition, material and making process are her key interests and she will use the Fellowship to explore the ways the material and ‘non-material’ aspects of her practice can work together. Previous works often explored what it is to make something rather than actually make it. In this work, she intends to link making and non-making processes.

Researchers involved

Dr Becky Shaw  - Post Graduate Research Tutor in Art and Design

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