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excavate overlay

excavate overlay
a project linking art, archaeology and landscape
20 September-11 October 2003

St Fergus Gallery, Wick Library, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, 01955 603489

excavate overlay is an exhibition of work developed from the project of the same name which took place in Caithness during the summer. It set out to examine the physical effort, skills and knowledge required of earlier people in their working of materials and the land. Along the way, horizons expanded and new, unanticipated lines of enquiry emerged.

Jane Bailey, Sara Bowler and Jane Webb have created new pieces in response to the personal memories, archaeology and local history of selected sites in the county. The project was multidisciplinary in nature, involving artists, academics and archaeologists. The show represents a culmination of their parallel investigations and responses to the chosen locations.

Jane Bailey's new short film, recollections from the future, imagines the summer events of excavate overlay becoming the stuff of local folklore in years to come. The idea for the film developed out of the many conversations and interviews that the film maker held during an intensive two weeks in Caithness. Although only a tiny fragment of the recorded interviews are actually included in the film, the process of collecting the material, and the rich encounters this provided, sparked this tale into life.

presents a visual record of the effort demanded to produce and temporarily install several tons of glass at the archaeological sites, involving close collaboration with glassmakers and archaeologists. She sought to replicate the physical commitment, skills and knowledge required of earlier people in their working of materials and the land. The resulting site sensitive installations delineated evidence of potential, former human agency, revealed by the archaeologists' geophysical surveys and subsequent excavations. Her work in the gallery includes a reconstruction of one of the installations.

Jane Webb presents a series of recent photographs of significant sites in the area, overlain with archival texts and images related to the activities of influential landowners of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Her research into historical data around ideas of mapping and planning have produced fascinating insights into the thoughts and ideas of the period and represents the initial stage of an ongoing project to examine the far ranging influence of radical thinkers associated with the period.

The project was developed by Sara Bowler in collaboration with North Lands Creative Glass in Lybster and was directly supported by the Scottish Arts Council and Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise. Further in-kind support was provided by the Highland Council Arts and Exhibitions services, Yarrows Heritage Trust, Dunbeath Preservation Trust and Glasgow and Cardiff Universities.

For further information and images please contact Sara Bowler, T. 07734 746053 E.sarabowler@mac.com

Excavation Work 11-28 August 10.00am-4.00pm

excavate overlay
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excavate overlay

25 June – 2 July 2003
See Below for Later Dates

                                                                                 photo: jane bailey/bruce sharp

                                                                                    digital image: sara bowler

excavate : overlay is an artist-led project taking place in a number of locations on the east side of Caithness between 25 June and 2 July this year. It brings art, archaeology and anthropology together through the investigation of selected archaeological features at the Yarrows and at Dunbeath. A series of free events invites the public to view the project at various stages in its development - a chance to see some of the processes, knowledge and skills involved in contemporary art and archaeology up close.

29 July 2003

Battlemoss Overlay

Glass blocks were laid out on sites shown by Geophysic survey and along the parallel stone rows

It also offers the opportunity for local people to contribute to the project by sharing their knowledge, images and memories of these sites (see below for event details).

The project has been developed by Sara Bowler, lead artist, in collaboration with North Lands Creative Glass in Lybster. Working with glassmakers, Chris Jones and Katie Brown, she will produce several hundred glass blocks, to be temporarily placed at selected archaeological sites, replicating the evidence of the archaeologists’ geophysical surveys. The resulting ‘surface image’ will indicate the possible remains of former human agency, potentially dating back 6,000 years. Yarrows Heritage Trust and Dunbeath Preservation Trust have been instrumental in identifying sites for the temporary installation of the artworks in collaboration with archaeologists from several institutions co-ordinated by Glasgow University’s Archaeology Unit.

Other contributors include artist Jane Bailey who will create a digital video reflecting upon the locations and exploring local perceptions of these ancient sites. Cultural anthropologist, Jane Webb, will investigate the 18th and 19th Century mapping of the sites, contrasting this with the planning of Caithness ‘new’ towns in the same period. Their work will be presented at the exhibition later in the year at the St Fergus Gallery, Wick and the Swanson Gallery, Thurso during September and October 2003.

The project has been supported by Scottish Arts Council; Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise; North Lands Creative Glass; Highland Council Arts and Exhibitions Services; Dunbeath Preservation Trust; Yarrows Heritage Trust and Glasgow University’s Archaeology Unit.

For further information on the events and contributors please contact Sara Bowler, 020 8889 1565 or 07734 746053, E. sarabowler@mac.com

If anyone has photos, film, other images, stories, information or memories of the Yarrows or Dunbeath sites, Jane Bailey would particularly like to hear from you. She is hoping to tap into the store of local knowledge and experiences surrounding these sites as part of the development of the project. Please contact Jane on janebailey@btinternet.com or tel. 020 7277 6703, mob. 07815 594758, or just turn up at any of the events during June / July.

free public events 2003
Please join us to view the events taking place during the hours listed. There is limited parking (and no public conveniences) available at the events in open countryside. Please share cars if possible and come prepared to walk approximately half a mile to the sites, possibly in poor weather.

25 June 1.00-8.00pm
glass casting demonstration
Studio, North Lands Creative Glass, Lybster, KW3 6BN

28 & 29 June 10.00am-12.00pm; 1.00-3.00pm; 3.30-5.00pm; 5.30-7.00pm
glass installation
Battle Moss, Loch of Yarrows, Thrumster, Grid Ref OS ND 312 440

2 July 10.00am-12.00pm; 1.00-3.00pm; 3.30-5.00pm; 5.30-7.00pm
glass installation
Chapel Hill, Dunbeath Heritage Trail, Dunbeath, Grid Ref OS ND 157 304

11-28 August 10.00am-4.00pm
weather permitting archaeological excavations
Battle Moss And North Yarrows, Thrumster, Grid Ref OS ND 31 44

8-12 September
work in progress
North Lands Creative Glass, Quatre Bras, Lybster, KW3 6BN

20 September-11 October
exhibition T. 01955 603489 for times
St Fergus Art Gallery, Wick Library, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, KW14 5AB

18-29 October
Swanson Art Gallery, Thurso Library, Davidson’s Lane, Thurso, KW14 7AF