27th May 2022
Everyone has to have an admin day every so often and today has been it! People think that artists spend all their time making art - just not true if you do it for a living! I have renewed my A-n artist membership for another year, which allows me to run workshops and events and is tied into my Public Liability Insurance, which you have to have if you are running events and art projects. Processing time sheets and receipts isn’t inherently interesting either but important if you run a busy arts practice.
I have also been catching up on this blog and getting ready for my next big challenge making ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ in the Roman Gallery of the Great North Museum. We start in the gallery next week - come along and make a piece that will become part of the art. Entry is free. Check out the details here:
26th May 2022
Today I have been working with Beaconside Primary School in Penrith, at Penrith and Eden Museum. Year 4s other two classes are preparing for an exciting residential visit staying near Hadrian’s Wall and visiting a number of the Forts such as Houseteads and Vindolanda. We were exploring when the Romans came to Cumbria, why did it take nearly 30 years to reach here from the South coast? Where the forts are locally, what the Celts were like already living here and what is was like to be Roman here? We talked about Brocavum and Voreda, the nearest forts to Penrith and important in Roman times. We handled lots of replicas and some original Roman artefacts. I will be seeing them again in a few weeks at Housesteads where we are going to make some art inspired by the Romans garrisoned on Hadrian’s Wall - so watch this space!
Here is a design I painted with Penrith Scouts celebrating Voreda (Roman Fort near Plumpton) for one of the banners in the Coronation Garden Penrith in 2012. The Coronation Garden is a great little park behind the Town Hall in Penrith and well worth a visit!
25th May 2022
The Segedunum Learning and Engagement team of Beth and Kirsty joined me at Denbigh Primary School at Wallsend. We had an action-packed day completing the metal foil designs and having a Big Draw - creating a drawing of the area round Segedunum and the end of the Wall now - with today’s Frontier Voices some of the young people from the school, which will go on one side of the ‘stones’ and the names of the Romans who were here on the other side. The picture is 3 metres long and 1.8 metres high. After working with 2 classes and about 60 young people we were exhausted by the end of the day. I left with all the pieces of work to start the next part. Over the next two weeks I have to assemble everything to create our Wall mobile ready to install the completed artwork in the Shrine of the Standards before the 23rd of June when the school are coming to Segedunum to celebrate! There will undoubtedly be more about this to follow as the assembly is going to be tricky ..........
24th May 2022
I had to cancel my next workshop at Tullie House Museum and Gallery. The Tullie House team have worked really hard to find other groups but the notice is now too short to complete their project by the end of May. We have agreed that we will now run the workshops later in the year. The project with Tullie is to look at identity through the eyes of the Romans and our own and to experience some of the different landscapes of Hadrian’s Wall. We are going to create individual responses to Roman artefacts in the Tullie House collection using a variety of media and then create some life size figures. These Frontier Voices will pop-up in the galleries and form part of a trail round the museum for visitors to follow. So there will be more on this soon as this develops........
In the meantime Tullie House has been invaluable for lots of research for Frontier Voices. I have visited the two current exhibitions:
To the Edges of Empire which explores beautiful objects, locations and people across the Roman Empire during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
Uncovering Roman Carlisle which shares some of the stories of the recent excavation of Carlisle’s Roman bathhouse.
Well worth a visit!
There has also been the permanent Roman Gallery and its interesting Wall display taking us into more recent Frontiers and comparing these to Hadrian’s Wall.
I can apply this research not only to the Tullie project but also to the other locations along the Wall where I will be making work.
Tullie House have also been hosting a fantastic series of Frontier Perspective talks - the brainchild of Dr Nigel Mills who is working with me on Frontier Voices. The last one is on the 28th May at 1pm and I will be watching on-line. It is really good that there is a live stream as well as actual attendance which has reduced the capacity in the lecture theatre since Covid. These have been excellent - knowledgeable speakers at the forefront of Roman archaeology and interpretation and I have learned a lot.
So far we have covered:
Hadrian’s Wall and UNESCO values (Claudia Reinprecht)
UNESCO World Heritage and the Peace Agenda (Professor Peter Stone)
Communicating World Heritage (Dr Nigel Mills)
Histography (Professor Richard Hingley)
Managing Hadrian’s Wall for the Future (Marta Alberti and Katie Mountain)
Migrations and Forced Movement shaping identities:
Who’s who on the Wall (Dr Clare Nesbitt)
Migration and Diversity in Roman Britain, Archaeological evidence and current debates (Professor Hella Eckardt)
Seeing Slavery in the Roman North (Dr Jane Webster)
The second group are particularly relevant for my project however I am also planning to use some of the UNESCO information with the schools groups.
May 20th, 2022
Off to Segedunam again to meet up with the Giraffes another Y4 class from Denbigh Primary School, Wallsend.
I am armed with my concept for the Shrine (photo) and my mock-up mobile showing how lightweight the pieces will be and examples of mark making embossed into metal foil to show how we can make the work. (photo)
In Art residencies I like to share my artist’s journey so the participants can join me on the journey and contribute to the process. Everyone is going to look and draw Roman patterns and lettering and find the names of real people involved in making or living beside the Wall. These are found at Segedunum in the museum and round the sight of the fort. We made little sketchbooks and then used these to record names, words and patterns. Then used these and made embossed marks on the metal foil.
17th May 2022
Yesterday, Nigel and I met up with some of our European Limes partners. It was the first time I had met any of them and my first observation was just how amazingly they speak English. We are going to be developing projects with NIGRUM PULLUM and Park Matilo, Netherlands who are on the Lower German Limes, and Peutinger Gymnasium, Ellwangen, part of the Welterbe Limes. There was a real enthusiasm for the project which was fantastic! We now need to start on the details...........
Today I should have been delivering my first workshop at Tullie House but the groups we had hoped to work with haven’t materialised which was disappointing. They are frantically trying to find an alternative - the refugees currently have other priorities, like learning language and employability skills and many people haven’t returned to the museum since Covid.
Anyway, I have made good use of the time and completed my design for our project logo. It has been time consuming as I have explored different designs. Here we have Hadrian’s Wall complete with Frontier Voices between the crenellations - because these artworks are all part of past and present people’s stories.
What a busy week! I have finally sorted out the creative exploration for the Great North Museum in Newcastle. As an artist you have to develop the concept for an installation and then work out how it is to be built within the museum space in conjunction with the museum staff. Over the space of a week I have explored Roman portraits and modern faces and looked at creating a very long felted work - a roll of faces new and old, which couldn’t go ahead due to gallery restrictions due to moth risk. However I have learned a lot about fabric conservation - so I have more knowledge than when I began. Version two was creating a ‘Column’ using artificial fibres and metal foil to beat the moths, however this would have difficulties in installation due to proximity to other objects for the lift outriggers so it was third time lucky transforming trees to columns for my new piece ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ which is a reference to a work by Virgil (a Roman poet) that death is always present. In the Roman gallery there are many Frontier Voices identified through their artefacts or epigraphy records on tombs - so we know about them because of their deaths. However my project is also for the living frontier voices of today and we are inviting hundred of participants to join us to explore the Roman galleries and make a small artwork embossed onto metal foil which will be their personal contribution to the installation based on identity and what it means to them. Watch this space..........
5th May 2022
Our first project meeting today. on Zoom. I was joined by Nigel Mills of Nigel Mills Heritage who has helped me put this project together and will be working with me on particularly the International part of the project as this is new territory for me. Unfortunately Clare Forsythe, a new artistic talent and our creative assistant for part of the project couldn’t join us as she was working elsewhere.
4th May 2022
First trip to Segedunum to see the site, meet the Tyne and Wear museum staff and ‘the Elephants’ one of the Year 4 classes at Denbigh Primary School. We explored the museum and the Fort. Particular highlights were exploring the reconstructed piece of Hadrian’s Wall and seeing the Wall of Names (photo) collected from the centurio stones along the Wall. Real Voices who gave blood, sweat and tears to the Wall. Our artwork is to be sited in the Shrine of the Standards on the ground floor of the Museum. (photo)
The view from the viewing gallery of the Fort and the surrounding area is amazing. (photo) I find it incredible how the site was pretty much covered by housing and industry not that long ago. Thank goodness that someone was clearsighted enough to protect it for future generations.
2nd May 2022
It might be a Bank Holiday, but today is the official start of Frontier Voices and I felt I should mark it with an entry. As it says in the ACE application Frontier Voices is,
Arts-based creative exploration of perceptions of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage sites and landscape. Participants will be diverse groups and communities all along the Wall and from some of Europe’s Roman Frontiers. A learning and engagement project creating artistic outcomes and sharing experiences.
All photographs copyright