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People are asking what my plan is this year. Presumably because it is my third season there is an assumption that there is a clear route, which is far from the case. If I have a plan, it is simply to continue – putting one foot in front of the other.  But alongside this gradual perambulation I need to allow time for reflection.

In I Swear I Saw This Michael Taussig says:  “The way I see it, a plan of research is little more than an excuse for the real thing to come along”.  So I am hoping that my ‘research’ in the form of drawing and conversation will throw something up. Last year the ‘rapture of the archive’ moment happened out of the blue, when I handled a worked stone that appeared to be something a Neolithic person drew with. I really just need to wait and watch.

One of the archaeologists suggested perhaps some group conversation might be interesting.  That could be good if it is not to formal and forced.

Meanwhile today’s drawing of a team beginning to extend Trench J could be seen as a metaphor for my situation…

 


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The second day of preparations for excavation, uncovering Trenches T and J. The tyres are removed using a long line or people to roll them to where they will be stacked.

The tarpaulin is pulled from the trench and laid out on the grass to be folded up.

Other more arduous tasks are cleaning out water, earth and dried grass – and, after the tarpaulin is removed, weeding and cutting the grass round the edges of the trench.

Tomorrow the site will open for visitors and excavation will begin in earnest. Time to reflect on the direction of my work this year…


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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…


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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.


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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.


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