For four weeks in 2016, I was Artist in Residence during the Ness of Brodgar excavations, drawing and made sound recordings on site. My focus was on human activity – both the work of archeologists in the present and the traces of the Neolithic past. Since then I have been developing a film of images and sounds, exhibiting the work to date, and paid another brief visit to Orkney in January.
I have now returned for another six week residency to continue my project in more depth.
A fine day on site at last, although the ever present wind makes the barrier tape rattle noisily on my sound recording.
Quiet voices working on the final stages of Structure 14, where drawings are being made before stones are removed.
On the other side of the trench, many layers of stone like a wafer flow across a sagging wall looking chaotic – but the structure itself is solid and well shaped. It’s the primary north end of Structure 1, where the supervisor says the walls have been ‘robbed’ of stone for other uses.
Must draw this next week.
This year, I have begun writing as well as drawing, bearing witness to the activity on site. So from now on, alongside drawings and paintings, I will be posting written observations rather than journal entries.
Wind and rain. Have to lean into the wind and have my back to it so the rain doesn’t hit the notebook. Archaeology continues. Diggers are made anonymous by their hoods. Nearly all have their backs to the weather. They are marginally more sheltered, being lower in the trench.
From the foreground to the horizon: piles of stones, a row of diggers, wheelbarrows and kit, mound of spoil, loch with water racing and breaking small white topped waves, Stones of Stenness, cars and coaches on the causeway and Stenness car park. The buildings beyond forming a first horizon, with the hills rising as a faint shape merging seamlessly into grey cloud.
My feet are numb. I need thicker socks. They have had three weeks of sun before I arrived. Did I bring the bad weather with me? The rain has stopped but the wind continues. It’s lunchtime. Maybe it will be possible to draw this afternoon.
Small triangle incised in a flat stone. Another triangle tip to tip making a butterfly. The second triangle mostly concealed under another stone. The significant marks in a position to suggest that its existence was more important than its visibility. So this affirms that something visual is not necessarily meant to be seen. It will now be meticulously cleaned, protected and recorded. Presumably it will eventually become an exhibit, where its visual-ness will take precedence over its original placement.
It may have seemed a little quiet on this blog – but there is lots of post residency work in progress.
The first 8 minutes of a film is available on Vimeo here. I’m trying to make it about the experience of being on site – rather than a documentary. So it begins close in with hands digging, then travels through voices and drawings across the site.
Sometimes the ‘scenes’ are linked with an assembled ‘key image’.
I have also been writing the first article for publication. When it goes public I will post a link.
Meanwhile – back to the studio