MEMO in Dorset

14 04 2009

I’ve come across a really interesting and worthwhile project in Dorset. This is the MEMO, or the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory. Funny, the word ‘memo’ reminds me of those slips of paper we used to send round our workplaces before email. It suggests things passing, slip-iness and fragility. MEMO is like a memo in that the project is intended to remind us of what we have lost and what we should take care to preserve. But it carves the memo in stone and it tolls a great bell.

The resonances of this project are extraordinary, but it is quite unique too. The rings of reference include Stonehenge, St Pauls cathedral, heiroglyphics/Egyptian stone memorials, grafitti, James Tyrell and more. As well as being resonant with metaphor the project also seems solid in the support offered by scientists and in the provision of information about the Holocene Extinction Event we are living through.

The idea, proposed by Sebastian Brooke, is to create a circular enclosure of Portland stone, open to the sky. The stone will be carved with patterns of micro-organisms by schoolchildren and members of the public during carving festivals leading up to 2012. The chosen site is on the Eastern cliffs ofthe Isle of Portland in Dorset, the quarry for the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral and overlooking the 2012 Olympic sailing events. It is an Olympic partner, but 2012 is also significant because it is the 20th anniversary of the Rio summit and 350 years since Dodos were last seen. 2010 will also be a key year in the project because this is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.

I wish this project the best of luck, hope I get to see it, and hope it works!

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