HILL is the story of one Derbyshire Hill, told by a gathering of five artists. Photographer Kate Bellis, poet Lucy Peacock, songwriter Carol Fieldhouse, film maker Gavin Repton and sculptor Sally Matthews have spent 18 months working working with the hill, at this point in its many millions of years of life, and HILL is the result.


The hill of the project title rises to the north of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, and runs west and northwards to join the limestone plateau of the White Peak.

This part of the hill that we're exploring is not in the Peak District, but then the Peak District boundaries seem to have been determined more by industry than geology. Here, industry is everywhere: from the huge quarries to the anonymous cages that cap narrow old shafts from nobody knows when.

Here and there are the factories that process the parts of the hill: great monuments of steel and concrete standing alone in the rugged landscape. Stone from the quarries is still processed here. The minerals are imported now, though many still remain in the caverns and tunnels beneath the factory floor.

In the quarry faces you can see the marks of geological time - thick lines of limestone, formed over eons, and thinner, darker lines of volcanish ash. Fossils are everywhere - in the old quarries, such as the one at the National Stone Centre, you can find hundreds of them together, like carvings in the rock.

That limestone has been used all over the UK. The famous Hopton-Wood Stone from Middleton Mine has been used for buildings around the country including the Houses of Parliament, and was carved into thousands of headstones for the First World War graves in Europe. The mine lies empty now, but its enormous tunnels - 30m high in places - permeate the hill. "That hill is on legs," as local ex-mine worker John Doxey put it.

The railway that used to carry the stone from the quarries to the canal at Cromford is now the High Peak Trail. It carries walkers and cyclists up through the woods and then along the hill, past engine houses, wind turbines, stone-walled fields and those odd factories that seem to have come from another place. They all greet you as you walk along.

It is an amazing place, and I feel lucky to live here.


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Future Exhibition - Copeland Gallery, Peckham, London: 21st Feb - 3rd March 2019

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery: 3rd March - 6th June 2018

Top row: Visitors from Middleton Village to see The Exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Below, HILL Artists, L to R: Sally Matthews sculptor, Gavin Repton film maker, Kate Bellis photographer, Lucy Peacock poet, with the marvellous HILL cow made by Sally from the Hill itself.


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