During October I continued my weekly visits to the campus, continuing my walks and exploration of the spaces and places that I have been drawn to in the landscape of the Airthrey Estate. I have delivered my initial exhibition proposal to Sarah Bromage, Head of University Collections. This proposal outlines the artworks I plan to create for the exhibition within the Pathfoot Building and beyond in late Spring 2024. The working title of my exhibition is MEMORIA. Having completed six months of research the real work begins now, some of which will be carried out at my studio in Edinburgh, along with a lot of planning and logistics to work through. I will reveal more about my exhibition plans as the work develops. In my last post I mentioned a site visit to the Hermitage with Murray Cook, Stirling Council Archaeologist. We were delighted to receive full permission from the University Estates Department to carry out our Hermitage project. Due to the nature of the site and its location, Murray had to submit plans and risk assessments to ensure the safety of all involved. We loosely called the project – Save the Hermitage! The plan was for Murray’s archaeology volunteers to carry out a clearance and dig on the site. My job was to respond to this event and experience using various media.
I’ve been using black and white analogue photography throughout the research phase of my Residency to create a library of photographs, some of which will be exhibited next year. I was very grateful to Janieann McCracken for her invaluable support and loan of the audio equipment, and also to Tina Gonzales for a brief teams call crash course in Super 8! The material gathered from last week’s dig will form a new artwork for exhibition next year. The dig with Murray’s volunteer lasted two days and we had the most beautiful two days of sunshine to carry out the work. They began on day one with a litter pick and clearance of vegetation covering aspects of the structure. The following images give a good indication of this:
As Murray and his team worked, more and more of the whole site and structure appeared. I worked between my 35mm camera and recording sounds such as raking, clipping, talking, digging, brushing, movements, the wind and so on. It will take me some time to review and consider all this audio material and to think how it will relate to the still B&W images, and also the Super 8, or will it stand alone. The Super is difficult to predict as it is now at a lab in London being processed and I will receive a digital scan in a few weeks time. Fingers crossed there is something on it!
By the end of Day 1 Murray had identified a couple of areas to start a dig, working to uncover the past, digging into the soil to see what it might reveal. The volunteers worked hard, fascinated by the earth, the bedrock and whatever else they could recognise. It was quite wonderful to realise that aspects of this historical structure. built around the 1790s. were being revealed and seen again for the first time in maybe a couple of hundred years. Wonderful! After the digging came the measuring and the photographing – a different kind of photography to the kind I was doing – to record and document the structure and show its scale.
At the end of Day 2 the team put back much of the soil they had dug out over the past couple of days. They uncovered the past then covered some of it up again. Although anyone visiting the site now will I think be blown away. The images shot here were quick fire shots taken on my Iphone. My artwork will be revealed next year.