HOW IT STARTED
Groep 85 is a group of sculptors, most of them from the city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, who have collaborated since 1985, working both on individual carvings and joint projects.
In 2001 Groep 85 arranged a visit to the Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust (PSQT) for a stone carving and sculpture workshop. Jonathan Phipps, Hannah Sofaer and Paul Crabtree offered a conceptual vision about regenerating the former quarry: creating a resource for the sharing of knowledge, skills and creativity between different disciplines. Carvings by members of Groep 85 could play a part in this project. The cooperation between PSQT and Groep 85 proved to be inspiring and fruitful. So Groep 85 decided to return the next year. This is how it all started.
Having discussed the quarry regeneration project with the PSQT the group’s focus became an area of Tout Quarry that was previously a household refuse tip.
In joint cooperation, for more than a decade a loose idea developed into a strong project which was to become focused on environmental regeneration. A refuse dump has been turned into a centre of interest and creativity. So it is really a work in progress.
The members of Group 85 are used to carving in a workshop, protected against the elements, on stones which can be transported quite easily. Many of the boulders they are working on in Portland are much larger than themselves and there is no shelter against sun or rain.
Large machinery is essential to handle the boulders. The sculptures are not made for taking away, they fit into an environment in which the form becomes part of a larger entity.
Although the Artist’s work mainly individually, the overall effort is team work. The group meets in Portland annually for just two weeks at the end of August / beginning of September therefore it can take several years to complete one sculpture.
In 2010 some huge boulders were rearranged in order to complete an outer circle which forms the transition zone between the project of Groep 85 and the surrounding area.
Within the space of this outer circle you will find also a lot of individual carvings. All together there are now some hundred boulders, showing more than fifty sculptures.
‘The Circle of Stones’ project is part of a wider network of quarry environments within Portland known as the ‘Quarry Park’, which is part of the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site. It has become a favourite place for an increasing number of people. The area is frequently visited to see all the carvings. The circle is also used for performances, educational visits, picnics, ceremonies or contemplation.