In 2016, I became an Artist in Residence at the Ness of Brodgar excavations in Orkney. At the end of my time on site, the Director asked me to continue for the foreseeable future.  Up to 2019, I returned every year. Now, after the cancellation of the dig in 2020 due to Covid, I am returning for my fifth season in 2021

My work is based in drawing and sound recordings made on site. The focus is on human activity – both the work of archeologists in the present and the traces of the Neolithic past. Outcomes to date are severals exhibitions, a number of talks, and two conference papers. Recently I completed the first full length edit of a film of drawings and sound, which we hope to premiere on site this season. An earlier edit of work in progress on the film is available on Vimeo. 


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The last day of this year’s residency. Three weeks have flown by too quickly. This is the shortest time I have spent at the Ness of Brodgar but on the other hand it is my first time away from home since the first lockdown – which took a bit of courage to undertake.

Today saw the world premiere of my film about the residency, shown on site as a private preview for the archaeologists. The film is not yet available for public viewing but an earlier edit of work in progress is available on Vimeo

We had converted a small portacabin into a cinema, which held six socially distanced people.

The plush interior

The exterior of the cinema and the projection room

The archaeologists enjoyed the film while I sat on the steps and drew the view.

So next week I head back home to my studio, where I will be making a final edit of the film for broadcasting and beginning to develop new work from the material collected, not just over the past three weeks but unused material, like the oil paintings, made in previous seasons on site.

Until next year…


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Many hands helping with cleaning the floor for Drone photography in Structure 10.

Meanwhile the cinema in a hut has been taking shape for tomorrow’s world premiere for the archaeologists. Pictures of the event tomorrow.

 


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Today the wind has dropped to a modest breeze – but as a result the clouds are almost static making the sky an overall light grey with just an occasional glimpse of blue. So while the normal strong winds create excitement in the landscape, this quieter weather is easier to work in  – especially for recording sound.

This season I have concentrated more on the ambient noises of the dig rather than recorded narrative – quiet discussions with the background sounds of scraping, shovelling and wheelbarrows. A good one made today while doing this drawing of scraping.

However some activities are silent – like ‘planning’, which is making detailed drawings of the archaeology. (The floating feet are an extension of the figure because the drawing went off the page…)

The Rock Lady continues to supply bags of ‘sweeties’ containing stones that make coloured marks, and I continue to collect these lovely shades of ochre.

These, together with more background videos are combining in my mind with my oil paintings and the ambient sound recordings. Not sure where this is leading but it’s stuff to do back in my studio.


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Most of the day was spent gathering materials to convert a small hut on site into a cinema for Friday’s world premiere of my film about the Ness of Brodgar.

This afternoon I made it into Structure 10 for a couple of drawings.

Excavating a robbed out area where stones have been removed in the past.

And meticulous work scraping the floor of Structure 10


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Today was mostly spent doing a final edit for the world premiere of my film about the Ness of Brodgar on Friday.

So just the one drawing today.

In Trench J they have reached ‘the natural’ – the earth that Structure 5 was built on.


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