Hidden Landscapes Project is an Arts Council funded research and development project.

Focusing on the fringes of the town Letchworth Garden City in North Hertfordshire, the project will involve individual research, collaborative engagement and a discourse with the town, its history and its inhabitants, through those things that thrive within its margins.


After a few months (away from, rather than off) I feel a bit distant from it all. I’ve been in a frame of mind of not really wanting to think about Hidden Landscapes or my art work and not really having room for it. I’ve been very happy to just be full-time mummy and concerntrate on nothing else. Being so immersed in my 18 month old son’s world is often such a powerful way to just be there in the moment, leaving no time to ponder past successes or failures. He now wakes up every morning, suddenly able to sound out a new word, fit a new puzzle piece, play out a new dance move…watching this discovery of his own body, his ability for self-expression and personal interaction, is pure joy, and there is only one way he’s looking and that is on to the next thing. I’m taken along with him, wondering how he can maintain the energy and hoping I can prevent as many injuries as possible along the way.

I have a studio day lined up for this week, the first for quite sometime and I can’t quite work out how I’m going to get my head back into that mode. Will it just be one of those never quite get started days or most likely, one spent with my head in admin!

What I really need is a fast track to ideas and inspiration… or maybe just a cuppa, a chat and a squiggle in my note book. (lets keep things realistic)


Only three days left of the exhibition. It has been a slightly strange and reflective time, but I’m very excited about moving beyond the project now. It’s been a rather intense year, working through some busy and challenging times on top of new motherhood. It has sometimes felt a little mad (often completely bizarre!) but most of the time brilliantly rewarding. I have really enjoyed continuing to push my work forward beyond the MA, trying to retain and expand on the research that I started there. It worked so well having a structured project and the funding to enable more ambitious outcomes, that I never would of been able to achieve without.

I think I need a little time to take stock of the whole project experience, reexamine the work after a little break and let the responses and interactions settle in a bit. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to present a few more talks about the project in the coming months, so this will be a good opportunity to keep those discussions going. There were some elements of the project and responses made that I am extremely interested to cultivate and examine further, particularly to do with the redevelopment projects proposed around the town. These points of change within the landscape seem really crucial. The relationship with archaeology in my work is a continuing fascination and something that I want to build on further. There are so many ideas to examine further, I almost don’t know where to start. Also the exhibition has been a strange mix of feelings that I need to take stock of. I have had many different responses and not all good.

I’m not sure if this is a common experience of having an exhibition in a local arts centre but some people appear to have very different expectations about what the gallery here, should contain. I have had to really try hard not to take it personally when an occasional visitor walks in, makes some offhanded remark, refusing to even look any further and walks out. Having the exhibition here has been a vital part of the project. It’s about this town, it’s about bringing these edges into centre view, seeing ourselves through what we most often ignore. But you can’t insist that someone should want to see the work. I guess we all see what we want to see and it would be very unfair of me to judge someones expectation of what art looks like just because they don’t like what mine looks like, but it does always feel a bit like failure when someone walks away, so indifferent. I want people to feel it is something that concerns them, that it is relevant to them. Getting people to engage with, think about and explore ideas has been really rewarding but when it doesn’t work out, I just want to run and hide behind the sofa!


Last week was a thoroughly busy and enjoyable one. I gave my talk on Thursday evening and then on Saturday I was carrying out a live excavation at Norton Common’s Pudding Basin, in which I invited people to come along, see one of my own ‘excavations’ first hand and help if they would like to. It also gave people an opportunity to be in one of these places that I have been so busy talking about.

I had a better turn out than I thought, 11 people in total and two that actually put on the gloves and got stuck in. It was a busy excavation with a high density of finds in a small area. I had chosen an area over the east side of the Basin, next to the rabbit burrow and covering a patch of charred earth that was most likely to be the remains of a bonfire. Most of what we found was

broken shards of glass bottles, burnt newspaper fragments and the occasional piece of some unidentified plastic. It was a little disappointing that we didn’t manage to get much further than the first few metre square sections and start to find more of a variety of objects. (It was the problem of too many finds!) and I was stopping regularly to explain what was going on, with new people arriving.

I really enjoyed this activity, at the Pudding Basin. Being out in the places I am making work about, out of the gallery and able to walk people around the site and talk through some of my previous encounters and hear their stories too. Two people that came had yet to go to the exhibition and I thought this was an interesting way round of experiencing the work.

I was pleased with how the talk went too. It’s not the most comfortable thing for me to do… stand up and talk in front of a sea of expectant faces, but once I got over the initial nerves, I just got on with it and actually thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed the Q & A at the end, a time when you start to get a bit back from the audience of how they have connected with the ideas. We had some interesting discussions about the objects found, childhood innocence, the romanticism, the threats posed by these places, the contradictions and challenges.

An interesting and unexpected subject that has surfaced a few times now through conversations about the work and the places it is about, is a connection with the recent proposals put forward by the council, for new housing developments surrounding Letchworth. None of my sites fall inside these proposed areas, but many people have bought this up with me. I wonder how people’s relationships to ‘edgeland’ places change when they are suddenly places under threat. It seems a new consciousness and sensitivity arises when something is about to be lost. I think this anxiety is a really important clue in trying to understand more about our intriguing relationship with our edge landscape.



So the exhibition opened last Friday and it’s been quite an exciting and nerve wracking time, anticipating peoples responses. I’ve decided to set up camp in the space so that I can be around to talk to visitors (and earwig their responses) as much as I can. This has been fascinating and I am largely delighted with peoples engagement to the project so far. Showing the work in the town it is about is a brilliant experience and the stories and discussions that have emerged already, through recollections and memories of the sites has been intriguing. These sites are mostly known, even if temporarily forgotten.

Getting to this point of the project is a bit of a roller coaster. A years hard work, its progression and development all coming to a head and opened up for general scrutiny. It feels very exposing. But by far the worst of all responses is apathy, but I know I cannot expect everyone to want to engage with it. The nature of the project and the presentation of the exhibition requires work from the viewer, there are many elements to the presentation and as a viewer you have the opportunity to draw out a many number of interpretations. On first viewing I can imagine it is quite puzzling and I never know what expectations people are walking through the doors with.

I am hoping that my talk this evening will add to the whole experience of the project and give an opportunity for a further level of engagement and more unexpected conversations.


One week this Thursday and it will be the exhibition opening. I feel quite calm about it and thankfully mainly on track. I am now at a point of thinking about my talk, going over my research and attempting to make some sense, in words. I have been dipping in and out of a number of books throughout this study, mainly those exploring the field of Archaeology of the Recent Past which is also referred to as Archaeology of the Contemporary Past or Archaeology of Us, amongst other things. This area of archaeological research is of course of huge interest to me. The debates and discussions dealt with in the writings on this subject are in so many ways talking about what I am doing and help me to draw comparisons and parallels between motivations and thought processes.

However I am a pilferer, an impostor and at times things have become a little blurred. I guess in the way an undercover officer might get so drawn into their adopted identity, they start to believe it; I may at moments have confused what I was doing as archaeological investigation, rather than artistic. At times the process and performance of it seemed to have challenged my own perspective and identity. All the way through this project there has been constant tension between motivations as an artist and my ‘pseudo’ identity as an archaeologist. This tension/confusion/blurring has however, turned out to be a crucial part of the research and the outcomes that will be on display next week. I have realised just how much common ground there is between the two fields, both complimentary and challenging. As an artist I seek to question an everyday landscape, that is buried deep within the ordinariness of being local and available. Archaeologists also are concerned with uncovering the everyday, investigating how the shape and geography of those same everyday places link us with the everyday of the past. But as I have found out, archaeology isn’t defined by a search for ‘history’. As a discipline it’s defining characteristics are arguably more specifically related to a search for alternative narratives, a re-imagining and heightened awareness of how we understand our place in the world now through narratives about past relationships to the everyday places we inhabit. We are both, archaeologist and artist, working from a contemporary point of view and looking for contemporary explanations to provide new perspectives on society now.

The cross-disciplinary experience has been an enlightening one. The opportunity to develop and challenge my own practice through the engagement with another has provided me with a chance to see outside my own potentially more insular perspective and opened it up to much wider possibilities for interpretation and understanding.