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Now that the residency is over, I am starting to analyse the material collected and prepare to develop work in my studio. This blog will be updated each week with a post about the progress of my project.

So far I have begun to rescan the drawings and watercolours on my flat bed scanner, which can achieve better detail of colour – see the new image at the top of this blog; and in preparation for studio work, I’ve been looking for pigments to match the colours found on site.

These pigment bars are made by Bristol Fine Art – and I’m delighted to say that they have offered to make some to match the colours from rocks collected in my sketchbook.

The excavations at the Ness of Brodgar are now over for this year  – see the latest posts in the Dig Diary.  I wish I had been there to see the closing down operation, as they covered the whole site in tarpaulin and tyres to protect it from the Orkney winter.

Next blog here, next Friday.



Day 20

The weather kept the site closed all day so I used the time to get other things done. In the morning I went to the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall to measure up a small room, for an exhibition next year. I’m really looking forward to this because, not only is it an excuse to come back to Orkney next year, but it will be an opportunity for further interaction with the archaeologists on the Ness.

The afternoon was spent preparing some images for the small installation planned for the showcase on site.

Day 21 – my last day on site

It is quite a challenge to install work in a high wind. For most of the day I worked in my adopted studio, assembling as much as possible before braving the weather to put it all together. With some invaluable assistance, to reach the top shelf and to hold the door open against the wind, it was eventually completed.

The photograph is not great, because of the rain on the glass and the low light. But it would have been impossible to take a better one with the door open as the wind was blowing everything about. Nevertheless, there is now a small memento of my time on site, which will remain for the rest of this year’s dig.

During the lunch break I drew my final portrait. It has been most interesting to draw the archaeologists and record conversations with them as they sit. I look forward to putting the drawings and sound together when I get back to my home studio.

This is Andy, who has just taken over the supervision in Structure 8, as Catriona has left to start her new job.

There will now be a short intermission

This blog will resume when I begin to develop work from all the material collected during the last four weeks.  It will take a while to collate and analyse what I’ve got – but I’ll be back soon.

Meanwhile I do recommend following the Daily Dig Diary at the Ness of Brodgar – and my daily drawing will continue on Facebook and Twitter

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There are now only three days left of my residency here at the Ness of Brodgar.  We had fine weather today but the forecast is so bad for tomorrow that the site will be closed.  In order not to lose a whole day’s work, I spent today gathering material for the showcase so that I could bring as much as possible back to work on in my room.

My on-site studio table, with materials for the installation.

Towards the end of the day, I got out to draw the trenches as the fine weather began fade.

A view across Trench P from the corner of Structure 14, with clouds gathering

Today’s portrait

Dan Lee, Supervisor of Structure 1



In the afternoon, I gave a talk about my residency at the Pier Arts Centre. The room was full, with a mixed audience of local people, archaeologists and others from the site.  After giving some background to my work and why I wanted to come to the Ness of Brodgar, I showed the work collected to date and then spoke about how I hope to develop it when I get back in my studio. The feedback was good and my interest in the everyday process of the archaeology was seen as a positive contribution.

While waiting for the beginning of the talk, I looked round the galleries at the Pier Arts Centre.  They have a wonderful permanent collection, bequeathed by Margaret Gardiner, which includes inspiring work by Peter Lanyon, Sean Scully and Ben Nicolson. Seeing these has given me some insight into how I should tackle an installation in the empty showcase on site.

Monday, Day 17 on site

Winds of up to 50 mph made it difficult to stand up, let alone work on site. But, indoors, I found an empty table, recently vacated by ‘The Lab’, which I have adopted as my studio. It’s very useful for hosting my portrait sitters, has a good view of the site and loch and provides some space to work outside my sketchbooks.

Views across the dig site and Loch Harray in the wind. My portable scanner is unable to portray the subtleties of the sky…

Todays portraits of Professor Mark Edmonds and Jo Bourne of Structure 8

Experimenting with red soil and bone on a plank

Tuesday, Day 18

Calmer weather so getting out on site was easier – to do some drawing and forage for materials for my installation.  Indoors, I learned more about rock pigments with Martha, the Rock Lady, and drew another portrait.

A view of Trench X, looking across to Loch Stenness with Hoy on the horizon.

Amazing colours available from rock pigments. Some of them have two colours in one piece.  The rocks have visible layers where the silts and clays were laid down during their formation.

Today’s portrait of Claire Copper, supervisor in Structure 10.

I have started a collection of found objects for my installation, including rocks, earth, and more modern items used on site.  Tomorrow I hope to begin an assemblage.




This morning I visited Orkney Museum in Kirkwall for a meeting about a potential exhibition there next year. They have a small space next to the Archaeology rooms, which is ideal.  It is great to be able to visualise a place where work may be displayed.  I already have an exhibition arranged at home in Bath for November, as part of my development and discussion after the residency. An exhibition next year back in Orkney will be a chance to reconnect with the archaeologists and get their feedback on whether my residency has been of any value to the excavations.

Back on site it was a fine day for drawing, both in and out of the trenches.

I spent some time in Structure 8, which is overlooked by the visitors’ viewing platform. Then went outside its walls to draw a piece of incised stone.

The pattern consists of some drill holes and carved lines.  The design is about six centimetres high.

Two more drawings of people around the site.

My hasty drawing of a row of visitors against the sky reminds me of a cluster of standing stones.  After tea break we all lined up for a group photo taken from above by the drone.

Today’s portraits

Two supervisors:  Dave from Structure 14 and Anne from Trench X

Finally, the Director Nick found time for me to draw him. He said he can’t remember sitting still for so long – it was less than 10 minutes…