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We are all EarthBound – hyenas of Hoe Grange Quarry

June 21, 2022
June 21, 2022 - We are all EarthBound – hyenas of Hoe Grange Quarry

EarthBound is a fascinating community project about the story of connected life through rock, earth and community, and will culminate in an exhibition opening on 16th July at the National Stone Centre, with three cave hyenas as a centre piece.

The EarthBound project

The aim of EarthBound is to make us pause and reflect about our future survival, which may depend on us having a greater understanding and respect for the incredible life, micro-organisms and fungal networks that hold our planet in balance.

The project is bound together by artists including, portrait photographer and photojournalist Kate Bellis, animal sculptor Sally Matthews, and natural history photographer Alex Hyde.

The community project is sponsored by Longcliffe Quarries Ltd in conjunction with the National History Museum, London. Hitachi’s Education and outreach programme have also been involved in the project. This has enabled pupils from Anthony Gell School, Wirksworth to have the unique opportunity to use a high-tech portable scanning electron microscope (SEM) to see the natural world in minute detail.

Pupils have been thrilled to discover the hidden story written in our rocks and earth under our feet. Hopefully the project may inspire the next generation of scientists.

Hyenas at Hoe Grange Quarry

As part of the project animal artist Sally Matthews has been working on sculptures of Hoe Grange Cave Hyenas which will form part of the exhibition at the National Stone Centre in July.

metal sculpture of cave hyena

David and I have been particularly interested in the project because of the connection to Hoe Grange Quarry, which many years ago belonged to our farm, and is now a nature reserve. It is also fitting that some of Oliver’s tail hair is being used for the hyena sculptures – it’s so exciting to be even a small part of the project - we can’t wait to see them finished!

Cave hyenas were the hunter-gathers of the cave in Hoe Grange Quarry. Bigger and stronger than spotted hyenas, they lived in large packs and would drag prey back to their den, where they used their bone crushing jaws to devour them, leaving the remains as a time capsule; a bone museum of millennia to be discovered by the limestone quarry men.

It was back in April 1902 that quarry men first discovered a fissure in the limestone that had been eroded by water at Hoe Grange Quarry. Further investigations found over 10,000 bone specimens, including fallow deer, lion cub, wildcat, wolf, bear, cave hyena and many more species. Over 100 years on and the story continues!

Oliver’s tail!

While staying at Hoe Grange Holidays in October Sally started the sculptures of three life size hyenas. The first step was research and creating accurate paintings of the hyenas, detailing the structure, proportions and muscles. Sally created the drawing from limestone dust, earth and ash.

cave hyena

Sally then shaped and welded metals rods to make a strong frame, the equivalent of a line drawing from life. Building up the muscle and flesh around the frame with chicken wire to accentuate the features is like building up the marks on a more worked drawing. The final phase is adding outer materials, such as wood, feathers and horse hair, which all have relevance to the subject.

As added inspiration Sally actually worked on the hyena framework at Hoe Grange Quarry where these animals lived so long ago.

Hyenas of Hoe Grange Quarry

Sally also worked on the sculptures here at the farm. It was amazing to see the sculpture beginning to take shape.

Artist Sally Matthews creating hyena sculpture

Over the last few months the hyenas bodies have been stuffed with hay to give more definition and shape.

Now is time for the more exciting part, bringing the animals to life by adding the outer layer of wood, earth, feathers and horsehair. We are delighted that the black spots on the hyenas are created using Oliver’s tail hair – my horse had a very short tail for a while so Sally had plenty of hair to work with!

horse hair and soil for sculpture

I think you'll agree the overall effect is extremely realistic and we can't wait to see the finished sculptures when the exhibition opens.

hyena sculpture in progress

Cave Hyena Crocuta Crocuta Spelaea. Ash, Charcoal, Cement colourant, Griffe Walk Farm earth, Loncliffe Quarry limestone dust, horse hair, Oliver of Hoe Grange.  Bedrock Geology: Limestone.

About artist Sally Matthews

Surrounded by animals on the family farm, Sally became fascinated by her father’s veterinary and animal anatomy books; she understood and recognised the importance of the individual animal.

A knowledge of bone and muscle structure has proved invaluable when drawing and sculpting animals, but Sally’s work is inspired by their spirit, and movement bringing them to life.

Soon after graduation Sally made Boars for Grizedale Forest, before going on to work in Bialowieza, Poland, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the reintroduction of European bison.

Sally documented hill farming in Tarset , Northumberland and Derbyshire  together with photographer, Kate Bellis, created a Welsh mountain pony for the Welsh Assembly and Wolves at Arte Sella, Italy.

More recently she has created a lynx for a rock outcrop in Norway and made ‘Twa Dogs’ for the Robert Burns Museum, Alloway.

The detail and precision of both her drawing and sculpture are made in praise of animals. In as much as an artist can, the work of Sally Matthews allows the animals to speak for themselves.

Sally believes ‘Animals are our evolutionary companions, whether we like it or not, the key to our instinctive truth. The further we move away from them and the nature that sustains them, the more contrived we become.

sculptor Sally Matthews with cave hyena

EarthBound will hopefully make us think more about the hidden story written in our rocks and the earth under our feet, the life there now and in the layered history of rock and earth, above and below, how we are all connected to this continuing story. We are all EarthBound."

The inspirational EarthBound project will take us through the hidden layer worlds of bedrock and earth, to pull us up into the light to look at our own human story of life on the surface.


The Auroch which will also be part of the EarthBound exhibition is extremely impress due to it's sheer size and huge horns!

Auroch by sculptor Sally Matthews

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Hoe Grange Holidays Tripadvisor Comments...

  • star rating  We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
    September 17, 2019

    star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H
    October 25, 2019

    star rating  Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more

    October 25, 2019
  • star rating  Felicity and David made us feel very welcome right from our booking. The pods are well equipped and spotlessly clean. The area is very peaceful with great views and we... read more

    January 30, 2020

    star rating  Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
    August 7, 2019

    star rating  Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
    August 3, 2019
  • star rating  Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C
    July 4, 2019

    star rating  Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more

    September 14, 2019

    star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    October 25, 2019
  • star rating  We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

    August 17, 2019

    star rating  We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more

    July 16, 2019

    star rating  It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more

    September 21, 2019
  • star rating  What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more

    June 18, 2019

    star rating  On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more

    June 25, 2019

    star rating  We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more

    June 7, 2019
  • star rating  We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

    July 11, 2019

    star rating  Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more

    July 16, 2019

    star rating  We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B
    June 4, 2019
  • star rating  We stayed in Skylark, one of the two glamping pods available at Hoe Grange in February 2020.

    Felicity & David welcomed us when we arrived to show us around... read more

    February 6, 2020

    star rating  For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

    June 25, 2019

    star rating  Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more

    July 28, 2019
  • star rating  We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more

    November 5, 2019

    star rating  Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more

    October 4, 2019

    star rating  What a wonderful find. As our first experience of needing accessible accommodation we could not have wished for better. Beautiful well equipped lodges in lovely surroundings. We stayed in both... read more

    April 3, 2020
  • star rating  A beautiful place to stay! Amazingly run family business! Everyone were very welcoming, friendly and cozy! The skylark pod we stayed in was very clean, cozy and well equipped! The... read more

    January 2, 2020

    star rating  lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s
    July 28, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more

    September 15, 2019
  • star rating  We stayed for a night in one of the cabins . The cabin was spotless and very well equipped , lots of extra touches were added like fresh eggs and... read more

    February 3, 2020

    star rating  What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

    June 13, 2019

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