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A visit to Martha, the Rock Lady, who gave me another ‘sweety’ – a lovely piece of crumbling silt stone that makes a great ochre pigment

Over the years my collection of these pigments has grown substantially – all containing different amounts of iron oxide.. In 2019 I made a colour chart, which is currently in the Ness summer exhibition The Ness: Its People at Maeshowe Visitor Centre

My plans to use pigments in the next film are shaping up and include trying for some animation of the marks being made.

Back to Structure 8 with the decision to concentrate on people.

First a watercolour of Ray, one of the long term volunteers, working by one of the hearths, plus a drawing of that hearth for context.

Then two more: recording data with GPS

and cleaning the structure in preparation for photography.


My last day on site, and the heat wave in England has finally reached Orkney with a morning of sunshine and temperatures a pleasant 19°. This brought out some very stylish hats.

I continued to concentrate on the people in Structure 8 in both drawings

and watercolour.

Eventually the sky turned dark and the clouds asked to be painted.

And then of course it rained – great big drops followed by thunder..

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to the archaeologists and head back south. It has been all too brief this year but I have a good amount of material to work on in my studio – and there is always next year…



Thursday morning was spent getting some good sound recordings, in particular an explanation of Structure 8 for the visitors’ tour. His voice is loud and clear and the information is gold.

There are also some good background voices of work in the trench alongside. Both drawings are rather tentative as I was anxious to avoid recording the noise of my pencil on the sketchbook.

Later I ventured into Trench J to record more mixed voices of work in progress to use as background.

The rest of the day was spent talking to archaeologists with various skills and knowledge of the databases used to document the site – with the hope of finding a way to integrate my artwork into the site record. Eventually I realised this is a far more complicated process than I can manage at present – and therefore felt rather lost and confused.

So I relaxed with drawing an archaeological still life for no other reason than it appealed visually.

On Friday morning I had a long talk with a friend, which sorted out my priorities (concentrate on Structure 8) and allayed my concerns about integration into the site record. However once again, the weather was making art problematical by constantly changing from sun to high wind to rain, with typical Orkadian speed. So I took shelter in the Finds Hut and drew some heads. It was impossible to draw more than heads as they were all moving as fast as the weather.

Back outside to work on Structure 8 and to revisit the views of previous paintings.

But my taste for drawing people took over

and the result was one of my best watercolours to date.

Perhaps it would be worth spending my last two days on site next week collecting more figures to layer into the next ‘film’ project…


This photograph, taken by Jo Bourne, archaeologist and talented photographer, was the view the public got of me painting on Monday, when the weather was fine.  Jo takes all the best photos of me on site, including the one at the top of this blog.

Yesterday I got away from the crowd and into relative shelter from the wind, to paint a corner of the trench where they were working around the big drain. At the moment I don’t like the result – but will probably be able to use it merged with other images.

Afterwards – a quick drawing of the extension in progress in Trench J.

They work in a line to get past the top soil and are just beginning to get to the archaeology.

Today high winds of up to 50mph prevented work in the trenches – but paperwork carries on in the supervisors’ hut.

The archaeologists have my undying admiration. The amount of work outside the actual digging is staggering. Meticulous records and drawings (yes drawings) are made of every aspect of the trench – not to mention all the post excavation analysis of finds and samples. It’s all a bit different from Time Team…

Check out the daily Ness of Brodgar dig diary 


At last a dry day with some sunshine meant being able to get a painting done.

It was not the easiest of sessions. The image is essential to my new project, being an overview of Structure 8, but it necessitated sitting in a position overlooked by the public. So a major effort to concentrate, and also distracted by many flies committing suicide in the wet paint.

Nevertheless less after the frustrations of last weeks weather, and feeling that not only were my feet not touching the bottom but that I was desperately treading water, I now at least have some material to work with when I get back home.

Also good things are beginning to happen on site. Work has restarted around the drain to the south of Structure 8 – an enormously deep hole that may well run underneath several structures.

And in trench J they have just lifted a large piece of bone – mammal not human.

All in all a good start to the week. Even if the weather disrupts my work for the rest of this residency, I will have made progress.

Message to self: just keep putting one foot in front of another…


The weather today was extremely windy and although I managed one drawing and a watercolour, the wind blew straight through me so I had to give up to go and get warm. The two studies of Structure 8 below will be combined with previous work and video.

Afterwards I recorded the wind. This is only achieved by getting out of the wind, so it doesn’t blow into the microphone, and recording the sound as it goes through the long grass.

Here’s a couple of random drawings of the archaeologists: having lunch and doing paperwork.

The forecast is for warmer weather tomorrow …