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In recovery after the Open Day, so assessed the collection of pigments.

It would be good to complete my ‘picture’ but there are more pressing matters during this final week. Having said that, I find my playing with pigment becoming involved in some more seriously research on behalf of the dig – experimenting with the longevity of marks made on rocks.

Two weeks ago Martha, the Rock Lady, shared a piece of red sandstone by breaking it on a piece of paving. There has been substantial rain since then but the colour remains. I had already decided to leave some pigment ground in beef fat exposed outside over winter. Martha tells me there would have been lots of eggs around here in the Neolithic. So, encouraged by Anne (Project Officer and head of Finds), the plan now is to leave samples of dry pigment, plus the same mixed with beef fat, egg white, egg yolk and whole egg.

Meanwhile, getting back to drawing, I am concentrating on a few gaps in certain stories – notably in Trench Y, where I hope to complete a history of the trench from start to finish.

Back filling has continued almost up to the remaining archaeology, which is being planned (drawn) and cleaned (scraped to remove debris).

But there are still potentially interesting things being discovered. They have another two days before a final decision will be made, on whether to fill in or if there is more to be investigated next year.

The end of an excavation is like a piece of art – you never know when it is finished…

Follow the whole story at www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk


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.