Tumulus

The words ‘cairn’ and ‘tumulus’ refer to mounds of earth or stones which cover over prehistoric burial grounds or tombs. Whilst a cairn is a pile of loose rocks and stones, which tends to cover over a single burial, a tumulus is more of an earthwork- a larger scale grassy mound which can often contain large tombs or multiple burials, and can date as far back as the late Neolithic period. TUMULUS  On the OS map of Comrie, around the River Ruchil area where I had been walking, I saw markings of a couple of tumuli, and they aroused my curiosity. I wondered who (or what) might be buried there, and I began to think of artefacts and bones which might be buried deep below these mounds. This is another hidden layer of the landscape- without the aid of markings on a map, and a bit of knowledge about burial mounds, an earthwork such as this would be easily overlooked, despite the fact that it had been constructed as a monument to mark the importance of someone’s life. I was thinking of layers, and burying, and wondering how I could bury fragments or words yet still allow them to be partly visible. I had a bag of wax beads in the studio, and decided to try a little experiment with them. When melted, I poured the hot wax onto paper, playing with it by allowing it to dry a little, then adding more on top. I love the semi-translucence of the wax – it allows you to see a glimpse of what is inside, yet obscures at the same time. I had some earth which I dug up in Comrie, and small stones from the banks of the Ruchil. I decided to put these into the melting pot, and mix them in to the molten wax.

IMG_5565Molten wax with earth mixed in

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I also mixed in some of the river gravel which I had collected 

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 The mixture was then poured onto canvas, left to dry, before more layers were poured on topIMG_5556

I was trying to create my own little burial mound on canvas

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The wax feels gorgeous to touch…a really beautiful medium to work with

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It now resembles the contours of an earthwork, although not quite as precise as those of Charles Jencks!

I left the wax mound for a few days, but realised that it would not be a piece which would last long, as the wax had cracked on one of the edges. Wanting to retain the translucent qualities of the wax, yet preserve the contours that it had created, I covered the piece with one layer of tissue paper and PVA glue.

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When dried, the wax was still visible through the tissue, as were the contours.

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wax

The background was painted white, to give a contrast between the opacity of the canvas and the glassy appearance of the mound.  I think that the result is interesting, and I like the fact that the earth and stones are buried inside the wax, sealed in but still visible through the layers of this translucent tumulus.

Playing with Shadows (wire drawings)

I’ve been experimenting lately with the use of shadows in my work, using “drawings” that i have made from wire and lichen – materials which allow light to stream through their negative spaces to create interesting effects.

Traditionally, the shadow can symbolise many things…darkness, evil, a ghost, a doppelgänger, an alter ego, or a false sense of reality.

In Plato’s Allegory of the cave, the people who are chained up and are forced to look at the wall, away from the light, perceive shadows to represent reality; as they have never seen the objects which cause the shadows.  To the viewer of the wall, all of reality is represented by shadows – a very skewed sense of reality.

Plato likens himself (as a philosopher) to a freed prisoner, who has “seen the light” of reality. He speaks of being blinded by the sun when he leaves the cave – this refers to the reaction of some when their beliefs are challenged or proved wrong…preferring instead to retreat back to their “prison” of what they knew before rather than to accept their new found knowledge or enlightenment.

Personally, this story raises mixed emotions – when wandering through familiar landscapes memories come flooding back. I think of how sometimes I would like to retreat back into the past…to happy, carefree times with no responsibilities, when my parents were younger and healthier, when I felt attractive and excited about what the future might hold. But the flip-side to this is the reality, the enlightenment, the ageing process, and the realisation of mortality.  For this reason, I feel that working with shadows is important to my practice – their ephemeral qualities also relates to some (but not all) of the materials I use, such as the lichen, ice and plants.

The first experiment of shadow maps I made was using the wire drawings of details in the landscape, which were grouped together and hung up before a torch was shone at them.

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One of the wire drawings which made up my part of my fictitious map

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First attempt at illuminating the wire using a small torch

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 Using the torch on an iphone…the shadows become much stronger

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   The shadows seem like they are engulfing the small space, blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality

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The shadows are definitely more dominant than the wire and when the torch is moved they seem as if they are a living and breathing entity

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The ephemerality of the shadows also resounds with the fact that these maps are purely fictional, although they have been created from existing features on the walks that I sketched. They echo the landscape which is transient and ever evolving through erosion, development, the forces of nature and the events which have shaped it and are continuing to do so.

See some footage of the moving shadow to get an idea of just how 3-dimensional they appear, as if they are coming out of the wall towards you:

Walk in my Shoes

This project is borne out of my interest in walking and psychogeography, in particular the ways ways that we tread our paths through the countryside.  The idea behind this project is to encourage people to walk whilst paying attention to their immediate surroundings, in particular to look more carefully at the surface which they are walking on. This will be encouraged by lending out some footwear which would be usually deemed inappropriate to take walks in…Silk ballet pumps and glittering heels.

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Delicate pink satin ballet slippers

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Glittering Four inch stilettoes from Nine West

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IMG_2741Gold mesh sequinned and beaded pumps from Russell & Bromley

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Gold two inch stiletto sandals by made in Italy by Rhapisardi

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The performative element of this activity, Walking in my Shoes will alter the way the walker moves through the space of the landscape, adjusting their balance more by using their arms, balancing and tilting their bodies. 

It makes a bit of a statement around some of the snobbery associated with walking (yes, you heard me correctly!)… the knowing glances of those observing the name on the front of your wellie boot to the logo on the breast of your waterproof jacket, and the disapproving looks from those who are well-kitted out towards those who walk without caring about their apparel.

The participant will choose to walk anywhere they wish, for as long as they are able, wearing my shoes. The footwear will slow the walker down, causing them to place their feet strategically, avoiding hazards, but observing them more carefully.

Each participant will receive a shoe box with a pair of the shoes they must wear, a list of instructions and a small plastic bag.

As a starting point, they are required to have a photograph taken of themselves wearing the shoes at the start of their walk. Throughout the walk they are required to take further photos of their feet (wearing the shoes) on the terrain over which they are walking. They are also asked to take any photos of interesting sights they see or observations they make on their walk. A souvenir of their walk is also required, and they must collect an object on their walk which they think is interesting or memorable.

Finally, they will photograph the shoes in their destination – at the end of the walk.

They will be given a questionnaire to fill in about their experience, with space for them to draw a small map of the walk they took.

The results from all the walkers involved in this project will be collated and shared on a WordPress site and possible website too. The shoes, found objects, photographs and questionnaires/ map drawings will be displayed as part of the MA2 Assignment  Intersections and Articulations, and eventually the small maps will be used to produce a large abstract imaginary map as a culmination of the project.

Shadow Walker – A journey through Scott’s Wood

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Shadow walker watching…

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Clouds float in calm blue waters

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Grasses puncture serenity

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Liquid mirrors still and silentREFLECTION4

Window to a parallel world

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Beckons us to enter

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Sunlight breaks the liminal veil

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Twisted arms reach skyward

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Gazing up to the unknown

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Unfortunate adornment

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Severed trunks await their fate

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Ironically consumed by growth

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Tangled veins extrude from earth

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Remnants of life and hazardous paths

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Exit shadow walker