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The first drawing of the day. The first actions for the archaeologists is uncovering the site by removing all the car tyres that have been holding the tarpaulins down.

This is followed by bailing out very unpleasant water.

Finally the tarpaulins are removed.

It’s all very hard work and I feel privileged to be able to stand and draw – rather than get dirty like the rest of the workers…


Preparing to go back to Orkney for my third Artist’s Residency on the Ness of Brodgar.

After three days on the road, journey’s end with the ferry to Stromness. Sailing past The Old Man of Hoy, with a strong wind despite the clear blue sky and sunshine.

Then a day to recover before the dig starts on Monday, and a walk into the hills looking back on the Ness.


After a few weeks at home I’ve come back to Orkney to collect my exhibition from the Kirkwall Museum and give some talks to schools and the college. It feels like coming to my other home. Down south I miss the wind and the big skies.


While here, I have been thinking about the highlights of this year’s dig. My personal buzz of connection with a Neolithic ‘crayon (cf 15 August) requires some serious reflection. So I have begun asking other people from the dig what gives them the greatest buzz – and plan to write about this ‘rapture of the archive’.


Meanwhile it’s time to return south and organise my next exhibition about the Ness and other mud related matters.


The dig is over and people who have worked closely together for the past 8 weeks are dispersing all over the world. The ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see you next year’ are quiet but the emotions are strong -unlike the theatre, where there is much noise but where people are already looking forward to their next job. I guess, like the activity they are engaged in, archaeologists take a long view. After all, there are still decades ahead for the Ness of Brodgar excavations, and the project will outlive most of us. It reminds me of Maurice Blanchot’s view that an artist’s work is their life’s work, not any individual piece of art work. From my point of view, my residency at the Ness is bringing together all the various interests of my past work, which emphasises the feeling of continuation, encompassing what has been achieved so far and whatever may be achieved in future.

Like the archaeologists, I will now be getting on with post excavation work, which means this blog will become intermittent.

So goodby to the Art Hut. See you later…



Mike talked about the way you see both a long period of time within a structure and a sudden moment. An instance of the latter being where a small pile of stones fell over and were left lying there. It is these flashes of a moment making a vivid connection to the past that interest me.

Yesterday was the last day for visitors to the dig. Soon all the trenches will be covered over. Before the rain set in, sandbags and tyres are placed round the trenches in readiness.

A fine day today, with less wind than usual means the tarpaulins are spread to cover the trenches easily

– with only the occasional billowing of black plastic.