Friday was a tough day! I had to prepare for Saturday where we were running workshops for 60 young people throughout the day, so it is like running 2 workshop at the same time throughout the day! This required really good organisation and so I prepared for a session in Corbridge Museum with Dr Frances McIntosh where we inspired everyone with Roman face-pots in different sizes and designs. I also made a sample pot, weighing the wool, and then wrote step-by-step instructions. I then weighed out the wool into 60 separate bags - one for each person, to speed things up the next day. The camp consisted of older Scouts, Explorer Scouts and their leaders, who are going to Iceland next year. They came from all over the North East - Hexham, Whitley Bay, Morpeth, Newcastle and further afield and it was a great opportunity to involve young men and women from a wide area in our project - every one a modern Frontier Voice here at Hadrian’s Wall.
On Thursday it was off to Bavaria, on Zoom, to meet up with one of the German groups and review their giant poster design which is 6 metres by 2 metres and aims to make their town think about living on a former Roman frontier by posing questions to the people who live in Altmannstein area and the Upper Germanic - Raetian Limes. This project has been masterminded by local residents and the mayor and making something like this is a new way of sharing their heritage. I heard that this project had been discussed with their heritage minister as a great way of working and the first time they have worked transnationally in this way - great news!
The Haltwhistle Youth Club (Young and Sweet) worked so well with me and we completed the big artwork for the Roman Army Museum using the recycled materials that had been cut into mosaics, quickly and efficiently. I then shared metal embossing techniques with some of the group who enjoyed making the raised and engraved patterns on leaves for the installation I will be making at the Sill for the final exhibition.
We had a super meeting with the NIGRVM PVLLVM group in the Netherlands. Representatives of the group are coming to Hadrian’s Wall to deliver the Roman-inspired boat they have made for Frontier Voices and to attend our official opening. In the true spirit of the project they want to visit other Wall venues and meet up with participants and facilitators - excellent! They are also bringing someone who is making a film about it all. I am really looking forward to meeting our overseas collaborators.
here to edit.
Mid October 2
Clare and I had a very productive session at Haltwhistle Youth Club (Young and Sweet). We completed 2/5ths of the artwork in the first session, which was fantastic!
Beforehand I had sketched out a rough design onto black foamcore board. The artwork will be 5 x A1 boards portrait hung together. Discussion with the young people and Roman Army Museum suggested that mosaics were appropriate and I felt it was important to include some Roman ‘bling’! The other challenge was making the timescale, size of artwork and unknown art skills so we could create something that everyone had been part of and would look amazing.
The design developed into using Cocceus Regulus’ name - he was a centurion responsible for overseeing this part of the Wall - and interpretation of the standard for Legio IX who were here at some point and both feature in the RAM exhibition giving us evidence of previous Frontier Voices.
Then we will create an interpretation of the geophysical survey ( a different kind of Frontier Voice?) showing what is hidden under the ground beside the Roman Army Museum, Magna Fort on the other three boards, giving lots of scope for people to work simultaneously as the Wednesday numbers are large!
Today’s Frontier Voices, the Youth Club, learned on their visit that because of the land drying out the buildings are now starting to appear as lumps and bumps on the ground, so we are showing them on our artwork as mosaics made of recycled objects (plastics, fabric, offcuts from other FV projects etc) because of the importance of looking after the planet to reduce climate change - important not only to today’s young people but also to prevent the loss of their heritage.
The youth leaders and Anneke also cut out lots of recycled ‘mosaics’ ready for use next time - margarine tubs were a particular challenge!
it is interesting how many of the young people were asking about the proposed dig so I think Anneke will be have some keen volunteers to go to Magna next year if the dig goes ahead! Evidence that projects like this get people talking and generating interest.
Some people also made embossed metal leaves for the installation at the Sill in December and they loved the way you could create patterns on the metal.
I am looking forward to being back with them all on Wednesday to complete the artwork!
Mid October 1
A really blustery day awaited us in Maryport at Senhouse Roman Museum and you could see why this was such a good spot to watch ship movements up and down the Solway - all part of the Roman Frontier defences. Girls and leaders came from Dearham Rainbows and from Maryport Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. They had already had some preparatory information for their unit meetings beforehand. They were expectant, enthusiastic and ready for a great day!
I shared my Frontier Voices presentation so everyone could see all the other projects and there was talk about some of the participants coming to the Sill in December to see the exhibition. I have promised some invitations to the opening!
Jane Laskey ,the manager, had organised for us to visit the fort beside the museum and we walked the perimeter walls (they had seen lots of other forts in my presentation, so recognised the wall and gate bumps in the ground and the watchtower corners, which was excellent!).
After lunch Jane gave a tour of the museum with particular emphasis on altars, preparing us to build our own in the gallery.
Beforehand I had agreed a size and geometry with Jane. I brought an armature partially erected, and the Guides finished the job - many hands make light work! I had made a sleeve of hessian, sized for the armature and the Rainbows had fun working with Clare to close the back with cable ties. Then it was down to today’s Frontier Voices deciding what they wanted to include. We had four groups each designing a side and liaising with their opposite side so the designs worked together but were not the same. The front and back have elements of Roman altar design and throughout the patterns were chosen by the girls from museum exhibits. Everyone wrote their names up one side (signing the work) and as GirlGuiding is important to them a number of badges were chosen, along with vintage buttons and other decorative items to create the side designs.
The Guides designed the top of the altar with some really good design and pattern work.
The first line of the Promise was included on the altar as this used by all Guiding groups young and old. These Frontier Voices try to live by their promise and make the wold a better place!
Today was back to Tullie House and our enthusiastic art group. Having been inspired last time with gallery and a site visit to Birdoswald, today it was down to the art with two more half-day workshops.
We began chatting about the Birdoswald visit and talked about the other Frontier Voices art projects and borders more generally. I introduced the idea and some basic techniques for embossing onto metal foil and everyone made a leaf for the Sill installation. Tina and Irene were so inspired that they made a number of ivy leaves for our artwork and the promise for more to follow as homework!
We discussed if we should have a timber wall or should we think ‘stone’ as we discovered that Carlisle would have had a turf wall with a wooden fence above. This was news to everyone! However we discovered that the milecastles were probably stone and everyone voted to make our section stone and we would make it a piece of milecastle with stone detailing round the openings, where you see through into the gallery beyond and round the screen. The screen will show images from the project.
Then we were off in the Frontier Gallery, cutting and piecing together a mesh armature for our work that fits into our installation space accurately. The armature then went to the community room so we could see the geometry of the wall we were building and start to create a fabric skin. We all took thin calico and fabric dye pastel sticks and went round the museum rubbing what we could from casts and handling artefacts making prints of the textures (art word - frottage). We also used mosaic and tile work from the building. These are going to form ‘stones’ on our Wall. Karen and Irene continued with this until all the fabric was used. Rob, Sue and Catherine had an amazing painting session - giving our fabric base an overall wash of stone coloured paint. The day had brightened up so we were even able to dry it outside!
We thought a lot about words - the Birdoswald poetry - and in particular how that you could often think about opposites in relation to walls. Rob really got into this and soon he had a list, some of which we will incorporate into our Wall.
I have just finished an amazing Zoom workshop with 25 Year 9s at Peutingen Gymnasium and their teacher. This is my third session with the school and second with the young people. We shared all the Frontier Voices projects so far and then they shared with me the sketches and preliminary work they have made for their cut-out portraits. They have really thought about frontiers and borders and have applied their thoughts to specific political figures, generic people and themselves who have perhaps been well or poorly treated by frontiers when they have been travelling and all originally inspired by our own Hadrian’s Wall and the European Limes.
I can’t believe that our first exhibition ‘Face-off’ is already coming down. Arbeia closes for the winter tomorrow so the work is moving to the viewing gallery at Segedunum to be seen by visitors this autumn. We swooped in and it was de-installed in a matter of minutes which proves that planning is everything! We had a great chat with the staff who have loved having the pots on display. Apparently people have wanted to buy them, find out who they were and how they happened to be there, so the staff said that they had been wonderful conversation starters for young and old. The visitor numbers have been amazing too!
Next it was in to Segedunum and it took about an hour to instal ‘Face-off’ in the viewing gallery. They have a great view of the fort site and if you look up at the windows from the car park you can just see some cheeky faces looking out! The identity pots will be here until the last week in November when they move to the Sill.
29th Sept & 5th October
Dr Anneke Hackenbroich and I had a very productive meeting with the leader of Young and Sweet, the Haltwhistle Youth Club.
We are working with 3 different groups on this project. They have been inspired by the Roman Army Museum and a visit to Magna Fort where they were introduced to the serious effects of climate change as the ground is drying out and how this translates into a measurable loss of their heritage as it continues. In ten or twenty years all the organic matter that tells of the lives of the women and children, eg. leather shoes, will have dried out and fallen apart as though it has never existed.
They also saw where their work will be displayed in the Roman Army Museum from February until end of March and then it will move to its permanent home at the Youth Club. The plan is to have an additional banner made to display on the gate at Magna, to get people talking.
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