Phil Townsend

Diverse Sculpture

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Title:  ‘Geological Time Line’

Location:  Hanging Shaw, Forest-in-Teesdale, Co Durham, 2005

Materials:  Sandstone, ceramic tiles 

Description:  Commissioned by the North Pennines A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Partnership after the area was designated Britain’s first Geopark, the sculpture is in four parts. The sawn face of the main stone has recessed into it a geological time line, from the Pre-Cambrian era at base to the emergence of Homo Sapiens at the top. The names of the different periods are imprinted into ceramic tiles, with illustrative tiles made by the local primary school children, showing lifeforms from each period to either side. On the rough reverse side are carved three examples of local fossils, hugely magnified. 

Through a hole which passes through the stone one can see another, smaller stone, set some 57 metres away, which represents  (on a scale of 1metre = 10 million years) how far we are from the beginnings of fossil life. On the same line of sight, and working to the same scale but a quarter of a mile further off, a pillar represents the start of the Pre-Cambrian Era when the Earth is thought to have come into being.