The art of extraction

Posted on 21st May 2012

The 17th to the 20th May saw artists and geology professionals descend upon Cornwall for the Penzance Convention, a three day conference reflecting on the way artists can draw meaning from Cornwall’s extractive industries.

Several field trips were conducted that gave an insight into many of Cornwall’s themes of extraction, among them a consideration of ‘The Invisibles’. This trip explored the great batholith of granite that underlies the South West Peninsula, its implication for mineral mining and radiation levels.

The presence of radioactive isotopes in minerals contained within the granite are responsible for high levels of radon across Cornwall, an area under active
investigation at the Centre. They also produce a great deal of heat which has led to the search for potential geothermal energy sites in the region.

The tour included a descent into the Rosevale Mine near Zennor. Director at the European Centre, Professor Lora Fleming was in attendance and managed to get creative with her business card using mineral deposits from the mine, she said

The Invisibles Field Trip was fascinating – not only the terrific guides but also the variety of the locations – it really gave an overview of the importance of mining to Cornwall throughout history and the creative and interesting mixture of science and art“.

You can read more about the convention by visiting

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