So what has been happening since the beginning of May? Well a reasonable number of visitors came to my one open weekend this year; next year I plan on opening for both weekends. There was plenty of interest in my small models, and work related to the Time Travellers dig at Whirlow in June and July 2016. The sun even shone occasionally, so Dore is once again on the map.
Since then there has been much more interest in archaeology across Sheffield. Our Whirlow site archaeologist Clive Waddington gave a talk on the dig to a packed audience at King Ecgbert School in the spring and his full report is due out soon.
Mid May saw a Heritage Day featuring Whirlow Hall Farm through the Ages – a fun event but with a clear message to schools and all ages that history is worth exploring and sometimes surprisingly relevant to today.
My small models which began with an idea to develop the Dragonesque brooch in 3D have taken on a life of their own! All my work explores the connections between artefact, context and landscape and has infinite possibilities, The models are small, portable and tell of different viewpoints; imaginative, sometimes serious, conceptual or with a humorous twist. And of course, all my work is for sale.
If you are curious to know more then do drop in to my next Open Studio that I’ll be hosting this August with friends from the Time Traveller group, it will have a wider theme of the Iron Age and the Brigantes tribe of the north, and link art work with history, everyday life, medicine and religion. No charge, informal and to exchange ideas! From Friday 18th to Monday 21st August – 32 Townhead Road, Dore 11am – 5pm daily.
Thank you to all visitors to my studio this year, I had some really good conversations and lots of interest in the work I’ve been doing recently. Here’s some pictures of the studio taken in a quiet time. Remember, I’ll be open again in August 2017 to talk with some of my collaborators about our research into the Brigante tribe of northern Britain, and I am happy to receive visitors by appointment, so please email me.
It’s that’s time of year again. This year I will be opening up for three days over the weekend:
Saturday 29th April
Monday 2nd May
Drop in any time between 11 and 5 on any of those days. For details take a look at the www.openupsheffield.co.uk site.
What’s changed? Well, my work has continued to evolve over the last year, and you’ll see that I am influenced increasingly by my interest in the metalworking of the northern Britain Brigante tribe of 2000 years ago. I’m continuing to explore 3d model making on a small scale using a variety of materials from card to dried Chinese mushrooms.
Note, my studio will also be open later in the year from Friday 18th to Monday 21st August.
In 2011 my friends Geraldine and Mary were helping to clear a trench at the Time Travellers Dig at Whirlow Hall Farm. A male colleague commented the soil wasn’t moving fast enough, they promptly replied that “Queen Cartimandua wouldn’t have put up with that remark”
A queen in northern Britain? Surely there was only Boudicca and she was based farther south?.
That autumn, Geraldine, Mary, Dorothy and myself set out to research more about this Queen and her Brigante tribe. We’d been advised that they hardly existed, what a challenge!; even the Romans knew the Brigantes were the largest Iron Age tribe or confederation in northern Britain? We quickly found out just how biased some of the Roman reporting could be. Naturally as the conquerors, and with a sound latin language in place they certainly had a distinct advantage in terms of being believed, although sometimes they were writing 10 years after the event, and from Rome.
Then there is the problem of the money available for archaeology and the magnetic attraction of “Treasure Trove”, with funding being allocated for sites containing spectacular hoards. These have a bigger draw for visitors to museums. Dare I say it, a north south divide?
The history of 2000 years ago can seem a very difficult challenge today, especially as we understand the Romans to be so organised, technically skilled and so brilliant at networking. Where is the evidence of the native population of Britain? The last 30 years has seen some rethinking. Much more archaeology is being identified.The Portable Antiquities Scheme which records small finds made by the public across Britain, not just “ treasure trove” has opened our eyes to more domestic artefacts. Far more questions are being asked, we have some wonderful technology to detect sites, and of course the internet connects these things together. Even if you have little interest in history these advances will have affected you.
Our northern Queen Cartimandua, has suddenly come centre stage in the archaeology world.
Her place of residence was most likely at Stanwick, near Scotch Corner. A site of some size and comparable with others in the south of Britain. How do we know? Well a heavy book of archaeological reports, comparing all the digs done on this site has just been published this spring, and this is informing new research.
How did I come to be involved? Well Whirlow is part of my childhood territory. From being a very small child I crossed the fields from Bents Green to visit many relatives in Dore and Totley. I explored the roads to Ringinglow visiting Sheephill farm and Burbage by bike. I was always hoping to unearth something from this ancient landscape especially across Whirlow fields and what we knew as “the Roman Road” at Ringinglow. By a strange “twist of time”, and many adventures elsewhere, I now live back in Dore, picking up threads from the past and those of my life experiences. My fine art degree has linked with family metalwork and design occupations in Sheffield with which I was involved when working in the city.
So where better to begin a new and fascinating trail from Whirlow across Europe to Italy and back. I could empathise with all those ancient traders, carrying materials and metals to and from the Mediterranean.
In 2012 I found a small enamelled Dragonesque brooch, made in the late Iron Age in Brigantia, it was tucked into a modest display in the Doncaster Museum.The creature had a very lively shape, still retained some colour and seemed carefully made.This was when I started to become really interested, and began my new art work and research.
Collage has always been one of my favourite methods of working. It gives me plenty of scope to develop both fine detail and large scaled subjects. My intention since focusing on this field has always been to study design through the eyes of archaeology, but to rethink and interpret through the eyes of an artist. The collages are created on fine cotton canvas, and I work with Japanese Washi, natural Asian and modern papers, and some I prepare myself. Other materials such as pastels, acrylics, inks and watercolour may be used in a variety of techniques. They are carefully sealed.
I think of them without frames. They are light and are easy to hang, but metal plates can be added to the wood for extra security. Each has my personal stamp and comes with some information about the contents. These follow themes which focus on aspects of found artefacts from particular sites. My main interests are in Iron Age metals, but if the subject appeals then the work may be about other materials.
The metamorphosis of metal ores using fire, water and air is very complex. The processes required to see a design through to finished object, always fascinate me.
The colours of metal ores, their chemical structure, location and ultimate form are all considered, and appear in my sketchbooks, but this is only the beginning and a great deal of study, museum visits, and travel take place. The combination of metals to make alloys, the chemical changes which take place when the object is found in the soil affect colours, shapes, textures, and conservation techniques can alter the picture yet again.
In this sense a collage is an ideal medium, but it is a subtle minefield to search for focal point, to select relevant subject matter and to put it into an appropriate context. This is when it really gets interesting!
The dig will begin on June 20th 2016 for 3 weeks followed by various events.
My metalwork study began as a direct result of joining Time Travellers archaeology group based in Dore in 2011.
The Romano British site at Whirlow was being excavated for the first time in 2011, and some significant finds were made. New lottery funding has made another dig possible, from June 20th 2016 with activities relating to Whirlow and the dig continuing for 18 months or longer. To complement the archaeology, four members of Time Travellers began an ongoing study of the Brigantes, the largest British Iron Age tribe which covered an area from South Yorkshire to the Scottish Borders, each of us exploring a different aspect of life from this time.
New methods of analysis are revealing so much more about this early history and finds are still being made, but piecing together the evidence requires time, training and funding. The North of Britain has never had quite the same attention as the South, which has possibly skewed some of the evidence. Methods of interpretation have also changed over the years, with much discussion and disagreement in the academic world about Celts. Also Rome, however great its achievements, was always going to put its own spin on events! Our study is revealing how climate change and migration can affect society, themes that are still very relevant today.
Ice Age – mammoth bone pendants 40,000 to 20,000 years BC
Lake Baikal in Siberia is frozen for six or seven months over winter. In spring millions of waterbirds and waders arrive from Europe, South Asia and Australia to breed. Migrants herald the change of seasons and bring a sudden glut of easily obtained meat and eggs that may give rise to feasts and ceremonies.
Thirteen Ice Age mammoth ivory bird pendants have been found at the open archaeology site at Mal’ta in Siberia. They are waterfowl, possibly geese and swan depicted in flight with wings and necks outstretched. Another two appear to be ducks on water and a third is wading. Some pendants are perforated at the end of the body for suspension. They have been found with beads, and carved plaques, perhaps to fasten clothing. Sizes vary, but are usually between 8.3cms and 11.9cms.
Another bird pendant, is possibly a cormorant with narrow beak, wings and legs; curving lines on the back may indicate feathers. This was excavated in Stadel Cave, South West Germany.
Birds may be regarded as spirit helpers, inbred with supernatural qualities being able to fly to the Upper World, down through water to the Lower World, and exist on land in the Middle World. At the Mal’ta site in Siberia, a number of small mammoth sculptures The excavated sculptures may have been talisman or made purely for pleasure, we can only guess.
Within the exotic gardens at Tresco is Valhalla. This is an area covered from the elements but open at the front, and is used to display ships figureheads mainly found wrecked nearby.
I first met the figures when there were no visitors. It was a grey day, which emphasised both the scale and bright heritage paints. It must be an eerie place at night, with moonlight catching on varnished lips or blue eye.
On my second visit the conservators were stretching from ladders to rub, caress and check painted cheek, curve, and gilded scroll. Talk was of paint numbers and lunch.
The workmen were warmly clad in practical paint daubed clothing, in stark contrast to the brightly painted and carefully crafted figures and fish. Although made of wood these figureheads embodied the religious beliefs, family loyalties and maritime[ heritage over centuries.The hopes and fortunes of captains and investors, dashed on hidden rocky ledges.