STIK has just painted a huge eight-metre (12ft) tall ‘Ochre Man’ at Clearwell caves deep beneath the Forest of Dean. The STIK Ochre Man is painted in ochre, a reddish earth pigment which has been mined there since the Middle stone age.
Clearwell Caves are amongst the earliest and last ochre mines in the British Isles. The ochre pigment is found as a soft deposit intermingled with harder crystalline iron ore; today, small amounts are still mined by Jonathan Wright, the last Freeminer working ochre in the Forest of Dean, whose family have been the guardians of the cave for over 200 years.
“The Ochre Man represents the re-emergence of the earth’s elements and a return of nature. I used raw unprocessed ochre from the cave to humanise the natural rock forms in the way that our ancestors did. I took great care not to disturb natural habitats and avoided historical artefacts and markings to collaborate with nature to the best of my ability”. STIK
The artwork, which lies 20 metres underground in Clearwell Caves, was created under the guidance of Jon Wright. Over 5 kilos of raw ochre was mined and processed by hand and applied to the rock using traditional methods.
“It is similar to ancient art, but it is a modern thing, it’s like a new seam of ochre, in a way it belongs to the cave. Nothing was brought in, and nothing left, nothing has changed, and yet it has. Everyone is struck by it, I have taken a few school trips around and they love that he is climbing out of the cave.”-Jon Wright
The Ochre Man is part of a unique sculpture exhibition, “Back to the Cave’ hosted by Clearwell Caves in collaboration with Gallery Pangolin and features works by 47 international artists, including Maggi Hambling, Tavares Strachan, Peter Oloya, Lynn Chadwick and Sarah Lucas, The show runs 23rd July till August 29th 2022. The Ochre Man is on permanent display until the oceans rise again …