Thursday, 29 April 2010

Stone Carving Courses

These wonderful boulders are now in place at the Dutch House in Crayke.  The trailer was loaded, with work-benches and stone and on a glorious morning I trundled over the Wolds to put them in place.

I was greeted by a scene of busy energy and creativity - I visited this site in mid-winter and it was a tangled mess of neglect and looked rather sorry for itself.  Now in the sunshine, and the magic touch of Cecile and Sjaak it is a growing, welcoming and exciting place to be.  They have worked so hard, and achieved such a lot. 

The boulders await their carving - thankyou to everyone who helped with unloading. The Dutch House are running a range of art courses over the summer, I will be tutoring the Stone Carving part and invite you all to come to the Open Days on May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for a taster session.  We will be drawing a design on the stone and everyone will have the opportunity to carve their own bit - so I hope I have plenty helpers!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Swallows are back!

My workshop, despite noisy chiselling and hammering, is home to lots of wildlife, which is a joy to me and a source of  inspiration for my work.  Nesting birds at the moment are a distraction, a blue-tit is already feeding her brood who pipe insistently.  I also have a treecreeper, squeezed into such a small chink in the wood boarding I would not have known was there had I not seen the flitting in and out with nesting material.  The hole is about head-height and I walk past it each day, pretending not to look at her in case I disturb the sitting.

But one of the biggest joys, and I have been waiting as it is due time - expectantly watching the sky and hoping - is the return of the swallows.  I first heard the happy, thrilling chirrupy song, and there they were above, swooping and chasing.  So they are back for another year, and it delights deep down, I waved and called my welcome and smiled all day.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Mesolithic Interventions

On Monday evening I visited the York Art Gallery where the Artists in the Archive exhibition 'Mesolithic Interventions' is showing.    Four artists created a new installation inspired by a period of research into the Mesolithic period.  Mark Hildred, Kippa Matthews, Damian Murphy and John Oxley formed Artists in the Archive.

Eleven thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, our prehistoric ancestors started to settle in Britain again, spending their lives hunting, gathering and fishing.

The period lasting for the next 5000 years is known as the 'Mesolithic'.

It was of particular interest as this is the time when the marks were made on the stones on the moor I visited recently and I was intrigued to know how other artists interpreted their findings after exploring the era locally.

Photography, video, sound and interactive digital technology formed the basis of the installation.  The photographs were rich and beautiful, and highlighted antler tools, flint and birch trees (Star Carr, an area explored as part of the archive, would have been covered in birch forest).

The exhibition asks "What can we learn from the people who lived at Star Carr during the Mesolithic and how can we apply this to our lives today?"

I was delighted to learn about Native Awareness  during the evening, and think one of their Native Skills courses, perhaps Flint Knapping and Stone Tools would be perfect for me.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Stone Carving - Prehistoric Rock Art

A local artist friend, Maria Silmon (Photography, Digital Art and Video) and I were very lucky recently to go out onto the North Yorkshire Moors with Paul Bryan from English Heritage and Graham Lee, Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer with the National Park on a survey they were conducting on the Rock Art.

A fire in 2003 burnt the heather revealing the Rock Art beneath

Both Maria and I have a fascination for these ancient stones and have been doing a bit of research with a view creating work inspired by our findings in some way - so this outing was a real bonus.

My first cup and ring stone

Though it was sunny when we set off, there was a good thick fog on the moor but it remained fine - so we were able to examine the stones thoroughly. It just amazes me to think of Stone Age people, there on the moor, with some sort of chisel implement, making these carvings. Throughout the morning I was creating stories around who I imagined these people to be and why they were making the marks. It seems we have significantly underestimated the ability and intelligence of our ancestors, evidenced by what we keep finding.

More cups

The whole trip left me with a feeling of connection and yet mystery - lots of satisfaction from actually seeing the stone and the ancient marks but so many questions raised, what for and why? They seem to have a pull on me, a comfortable drawing in as if I belong with them. Aesthetically they are very charming.  A big thankyou to Graham and Paul for their expertise and knowlege.

No doubt this will be the first of many trips, I am fascinated and the lure is strong.

I am reading a wonderful book 'Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors' by Paul M Brown and Graeme Chappell which is a great resource on the subject.
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