First There is a Mountain is a nationwide participatory event taking place over summer 2019, starting on the first day of British Summer Time, 31 March and ending on 27 October. At each location participants will sculpt beaches into thousands of miniature sand mountain ranges to form ephemeral micro-geologies.
Our event in Leysdown on 31 March (also Mothering Sunday) is the very first date and launches the project, which will then travel onto venues right around the coast including Tate St Ives in Cornwall and the Pier Arts Centre on Orkney. The project will end just across the Estuary in Southend on 27 October.
The artist will be present at Leysdown to launch the work.
Fifty sets of buckets and spades will be available to use on the day. The ‘buckets’ are specially created hollow scale models of five of the world’s most famous mountains: Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Shasta (North America), Mount Fuji (Asia), Stromboli (Europe), and Uluru (Oceania).
First There is a Mountain poetically connects world mountains to the smallest grains of sand. The artwork invites people to slow down and consider the interconnectedness of the world, from shifting coastlines across millennia, to our own eroding coastline.
25 writers have been invited to write a text, one for each location. Katie Paterson has invited Jeremy Millar, artist, writer and lecturer in critical writing at the Royal College of Art, to write the text for Leysdown, which will be read aloud on the day.
How to take part:
There are three ways to get involved:
- Be a part of making this incredible event happen as a guide/volunteer (contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.)
- Take part in building the mountain ranges as a participant, all ages and abilities welcome, kids activity sheets will be available – a great day out for the family on Mothering Sunday Turn up at any time between 3 and 5pm to join in.
- As a viewer – come and watch the Leysdown beach transform. All are welcome.
More about First There is a Mountain
Katie Paterson says,
“From early childhood we understand that sand marks time. First There is a Mountain builds upon this concept, making us aware of the erosion of mountain rocks over millennia, rock shifting across Earth through the evolution of continents, forming unique fingerprints of sand across our modern coastline. The artwork invites people to slow down and consider the interconnectedness of the world, its immensity conveyed in miniature. Connecting the archipelago via one water, one tide, one sand – carrying mountains of sand across time. The extraordinary existing in ordinary things, everywhere.”
Paterson selected the mountains using data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The sand buckets are made from 100% fermented plant starch, fully bio-compostable, and at the end of the project they will be composted, absorbed back into the natural environment.
The nearest pay and display car park (click here) is 5 minutes slow walk from the location of the event.
The free coach to Leysdown will depart from Sittingbourne train station at 14:00 and Sheerness at 14:30 (and will depart from Leysdown beach for the return journey at 18:00). Book here
The coach from London will depart from outside the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green at 13:30 (and will depart from Leysdown Beach at 15:00 for the return journey, arriving back in Bethnal Green at 19:00). Adult tickets cost £15, book here. Email us at info@whitstablebiennale to request free children’s tickets.
Wheelchair users should be able to access the stretch of shingle and sand beach at Leysdown where the project will be taking place. Please contact sophie@whitstablebiennale with any accessibility-related queries.
First There is a Mountain is a collaborative cross-disciplinary project, involving twenty-five arts venues around the UK coast, starting with Whitstable Biennale in Kent on 31 March and ending with Focal Point in Essex on 27 October. Twenty-five new pieces of writing have been commissioned to accompany the artwork’s journey. The texts will form a digital anthology, bringing together writing by celebrated authors, poets, geologists, earth scientists, ecologists, and art writers.
Paterson’s art enables us to engage with intangible and immense forces. Time, glaciation, growth, the solar system, fossilisation, electricity, and weather systems provide inspiration for her work, and she often uses sand as a cypher for time and infinitude in her practice. First There is a Mountain continues her enquiry into a recalibration of our understanding of space, time and place.
Elizabeth Newell in collaboration with Siobhan Maguire at Katie Paterson Studio.