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.
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…
Bad weather meant people were more willing to give me 15 minutes of their time to come indoors and have their portraits drawn. But some intrepid archaeologists kept going.
Catriona supervisor in Structure 8 and Ben supervisor in Trench 10
Mark and Allette of Geomatics, who digitally map and measure the site from the Total Station; and Laura who flies the drone.
In other news
On site there is an empty display case and I have been given permission to put something in it; so a small installation could happen on site – if there is time in my last week of the residency.
This morning the site was closed so I spent some time preparing my talk for Saturday at the Pier Arts Centre. It’s called Work in Progress and is quite hard to put together, as the work to date is really a collection of drawings, paintings, sound and video – all ‘in no particular order’. However, it is making me think hard about how my research could fit in with the archaeological research.
When I arrived on site after lunch, the sky needed to be painted.
The low cloud was partly sitting on the horizon and the rest of it looked as though it was bleeding downwards.
Two more portraits today:
As usual I recorded conversations while drawing. Antonia talked most interestingly about her special field – the relationship between artists and archaeology and how they work together. It made me realise the complexities of being Artist in Residence and some of the pitfalls to avoid. Scott is an archaeological geologist and works on the hi tech aspect of the dig, bringing a lab to the excavation and providing chemical analysis on site. He also flies the drone, taking photos of the site from the sky as part of his interest in environmental change.
While waiting to draw Scott, I watched rocks being washed in the kitchen.
One of the rocks shows signs of having ‘a life’, which means it has been used by Neolithic people as a work stone. The traces of human activity in the past are fascinating.
Today I met two experts who showed me treasures.
Pottery specialist, Roy, who let me draw a magnificent piece of a Neolithic pot and a small piece of fired clay, with what appears to be the impression of a finger. Afterwards, the ‘Rock Lady’, Martha, introduced me to the wonders of colour from rocks. When I’m back in my studio, I hope to make some work using these and other pigments from the site.
It was a fine day with time for two watercolours. It should be noted that my portable scanner doesn’t do justice to the nuances of colour in the sky.
Today’s other drawings are from the trench and the office.
Tomorrow we won’t get on site until the afternoon, due to bad weather being forecast.
Two portraits this morning, with sound recordings explaining archaeological procedures, in the trench and for finds.
While waiting to draw Anne, I was able to draw her being filmed with an expert examining a find.
This afternoon, I made a number of colour notes for use with drawings back in my studio.
Not sure how I’ll achieve the colour of hi-viz jackets…