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Trench tour for the many specialists working with the Ness of Brodgar makes me feel in awe of the complexity of the dig. Put in parallel with my project as Artist in Residence, it shows up the bewildering nature of what I am attempting. Must hold on to the process of drawing and trust that will reveal a way forward.

On a lighter note, at morning coffee break, while getting out of the wind, flapjack and shortbread are passed round. Other food consumed includes sushi and crunchy peanut butter balanced on banana.


Hugo talked most interestingly about how Structure 14 may have been built – what was probably established first and how, bit by bit, the (non architect based) structure gradually appeared over time. Stones straight on to earth. (Our early C19 cottage was originally six inch ashlars directly on earth – so not a lot has changed over 5000 years). Then Martha was pointing out how the size of stones in different structures indicate whether it took one man or two to build a wall. Also, there are rounded stones beside a wall of Structure 8 that appear to have been dumped – and where did they come from? There is a pervading air of randomness mixed with pragmatism and serendipity, which resonates with the way I work.


More pictures from the site in today’s sunshine.


Re excavation. Revisiting an eight year old trench. Yesterday they excavated the black plastic. Today brushing, weeding and gentle spade work, dragging off earth settled on top of previously exposed stone. Like working with a big trowel. Not on their knees but still bent over. Housework clearing up loose stones with brush and shovel.


Mild, damp, grey upon grey. The grass is lighter than the sky. The waves on the loch travel one way and the clouds appear to blow in the other direction.

Wet paint


Something orange showing in the mud – a piece of oxidised pottery. Another piece slowly appears as the trowel gently scrapes away the earth crumb by crumb.

Trying to draw the undulating stones like wafers, which I wrote about on Friday, my drawing fails to live up to the written image. It reminds me of Merleau-Ponty’s account of Cézanne, when he spoke about painting a white tablecloth that resembled the snows of Mont Blanc. If he thinks about the snow he is lost – but if he paints the tablecloth as he really sees it, then the resemblance to snow will appear.