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The first two days of this week were spent at the Drawing Research Network conference, ‘Tracing The Bridge’, where I hoped to learn about projects that are using drawing as a ‘bridge’ to other disciplines.  Although I did not find any direct parallels to my project, there was much interesting research and I was able to see where my work in Orkney sits within Drawing Research.

Back home I continued to re-scan my drawings but due to other interruptions, this phase is not yet complete.  However, I have put together an online sketchbook of all the first week’s drawings, watercolours and portraits, in chronological order.

This is just a first step in making the residency work available for viewing. I will continue the scanning and put the complete journal online as soon as possible. After that I will be editing all the sound files, in preparation for developing work in the studio.

Don’t forget that the actual dig can be seen on the Ness of Brodgar Dig Diary


This week has been mainly studio housework in preparation for developing the material collected during the residency. In between clearing the decks, I have been re-scanning all my sketches as high resolution images on a flat bed scanner, and regaining the subtly of water colour skies.

Turning this:

Into this:

So far, I have rescanned all the watercolours and all the portraits, and have begun to work my way through nearly 100 sketchbook drawings.  By the end of next week, I will have made an online sketchbook of the all the drawings.

Meanwhile you can still follow my daily drawing journal at Karen Wallis Artworks on Facebook and @KarenArtwork on Twitter


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