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A very busy day on site. I managed one drawing of some interaction outside the Finds Hut.

Nearly 300 people visited the Art Hut. So, as I needed to be around, it seemed a good opportunity to play with pigments.

I am recreating a piece made back in Bath for my exhibition last autumn at 44AD. The row underneath the bags are made with dry pigment straight on to canvas. The middle row are mixed with water. The bottom row are ground with beef fat – Neolithic ‘oil paint’ in recognition of the quantity of cattle bones found on site. The bags contain the stone used and the remains of the ‘oil paint’.

Tomorrow it’ll be back to normal, drawing on site.


Today is the last day for many on the dig. Tomorrow (Friday) will be a day off as Sunday is an Open Day. There is an air of closing down. Trenches are being cleaned rather than dug, and areas are being planned (drawn to scale), and photographed – including from the air by drone. It makes me feel an bit disorientated – a mixture of panic at not getting things done and remembering that I can do more next year.

I completed the drawing in Trench T, and went to check out Trench Y. They have already begun to fill in the lower part by the water. A strong wind was blowing dust and making it difficult to draw.

Getting down into Structure 8 provided a bit of shelter but not enough to prevent the wind, now even stronger, from making painting extremely messy.

However, out of necessity the painting is very free – no bad thing.


As the end of the dig draws near everyone is concentrating on what is most urgent to achieve. In Trench Y, which is due to be filled in as they have not found ‘the wall’, work is focussed on the floors around the small walls and hearth [C.8429] at the top of the trench. Specifically they need to find some pottery, which can be carbon dated to show when the structure was occupied.

For me it is a matter of getting drawings done when it is not raining. I am particularly keen to draw Trench T, which has ceased to look like a lunar landscape and now has clear level areas, waiting for further excavation of the structure underneath next year. When these drawings go into my film there will be a series of time lapse views from the same position. Today I managed half the drawing before rain came down.

Rick, who has been teaching the students in Trench T, sat for his portrait.

He has enjoyed seeing the growth in their confidence, and is pleased how many are now interested in pursuing some aspect of archaeology. Working with Cristina has been great, especially as she is such a good role model for the young female students.

The work force on site is not only international but truly diverse with its cross section of all ages and a healthy gender balance.

Ness of Brodgar web site has all the latest dig news at www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk



Rain all day. So no good for drawing on site apart from sketching the archaeologists from the door of the Art Hut, during a wet tea break.

The alternative activity was to annotate my sketchbooks, adding the date, place and people to each page. I also need to add in the archaeological context where relevant, so I made a list and began making enquiries for specific numbers. At this point I discovered there are many possible numbers involved – finds, small finds, finds deposits, not to mention numerous contexts and deposits. Out of this confusion I just want to find a simple link (via a number) between my drawings and the Ness of Brodgar archive. This makes me ponder on our differences.

Archeology has a highly detailed methodology – the opposite of any method I employ. In my work, every drawing, painting, or conversation is a spontaneous reaction with no boundaries. The only restrictions are my ability as an artist and my inhibitions in social interaction. 


It has been suggested that my work on human activity at the dig should be linked to the official Ness of Brodgar documentation – specifically when I draw a find being excavated the drawing should reference the context number of the artefact. So when I publish the image there should be a link to the Ness archive – and vice versa, a link from their archive to my artwork. I’m not sure how this will be done in my film but presumably there is a digital solution.

Beginning as I mean to go on, this is a drawing of Jo working on a hearth (context number 6311) in Structure 8.

And here is a piece of red sandstone (context number 8736), which Martha the Rock Lady gave me because it makes such a great pigment.

It is good to know that my ‘human context’ is valued – and I find that the human element cannot be underestimated. Cristina, the new supervisor in Trench T, says that although the archaeology is important, it is the people she works with that matter most. She really enjoys working with students and volunteers, because she loves teaching and also values the commitment of volunteers. Interestingly, her own delight in archaeology is learning something new everyday.

Finally a drawing of Professor Scott Pike flying the drone – what is missing from the picture is the Director’s dog trying to catch it. Next time…

The Ness of Brodgar web site is: www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk