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Arts

John Sunderland

Art Commission

John Sunderland

“Over the last three decades, I have led parallel and interweaving careers in visual art and archaeology. Through this, I have developed a transdisciplinary practice informed by research in the fields of geography, contemporary archaeology and art. I am a founding member of The Praxis Collective, an international group of artists and transdisciplinary practitioners seeking new ways to address contemporary issues through grounded theory and art/science collaboration. My current practice draws on deep mapping and the deep time of the Anthropocene to delve into the past, in the present, with an eye to the future.” – John Sunderland

Questions of Good and Evil

'The Shooting Hut' (Site 1, Visit 9) from the project 'Touching Darkness' (2019)

“I see the discipline of archaeology, the study of the material past, as a product of the enlightenment, with all its encumbrances of colonialism and material appropriation, it has developed into a highly evidence-based enquiry into materiality in many forms (ecological and cultural) and scales from the microscopic to the changing global landscape. 

In the context of this project, I find myself considering that these philosophies and methodologies seem at odds with what would have been the prevailing philosophies or theologies of the times that the archaeologists and researchers in Ancient Connections are investigating. This disparity is interesting when considering both movement and the sacred in terms of how someone in the medieval period might have responded to encountering something old or unusual in the landscape. We cannot truly know what went on in the minds of our ancestors but rather than deciphering materials and places in terms of classifications and significations of evidence, narratives may well have turned to the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents. Objects and materials may have evoked fear or reverence verging on the ecstatic.

In Search of the Uncanny

“Taking this into account, I will undertake a contemporary pilgrimage from one archaeological excavation to the other in St Davids and Ferns. To mimic the medieval experience of travel overland, I will cycle and walk, as cycling would mean travelling at a pace similar to a horse or horse and cart. The purpose of this journey is to make an immersion into the landscape in search of the uncanny, the supernatural and the sacred. It will begin and end with me physically excavating at each site (as an archaeologist). 

Taking an imagined medieval mindset as an inner world, I will project this onto the outer landscape through photographic practice, mapping, drawing and writing. I will also collect found objects of curiosity, from the excavations and during travel. A selection of these would be modified and placed inside a handmade reliquary. The central component of this practice will be photographic. In order evoke atmospheres of the medieval mindset, I will use a large format pinhole camera with 5”x4” black and white negatives.

The intention is to create a visual and written narrative of this journey, not to undertake the journey as a performance, but to use deep mapping principles to investigate a route, rather than a place.” – John Sunderland

Date: September 2020 – December 2022

Project Outputs: Photographs and handmade reliquary

Learn More at: www.johnsunderland.com

Categories
Arts

Linda Norris – what3sherds, a Citizen Archaeology Project

Art Commission

Linda Norris

Sherd: Synonyms or Related Terms: shard, potsherd

Category: Artefact

Definition: Any pottery fragment – piece of broken pot or other earthenware item – that has archaeological significance. They are an invaluable part of the archaeological record because they are well-preserved. The analysis of ceramic changes recorded in potsherds has become one of the primary techniques used by archaeologists in assigning components and phases to times and cultures.
(Kipfer www.archaeologywordsmith.com 2020)

“I am an artist working across artforms, moving from painting to glass blowing, casting to ceramic in my investigations of the genius loci of the landscape. For the Ancient Connections Commission, I am interested in exploring how I can use archaeology to reveal and examine human connections with other places, primarily Ireland and the Celtic Diaspora. I am constantly seeking out things that connect me with the landscape and the people who lived here before me and I am increasingly drawn to small overlooked ‘finds’ that tell untold stories and connect me to the landscape and the people of the area.” – Linda Norris

Links with the Past

“I have recently been focusing on ceramic sherds that I have found in my garden and on beaches and riverbeds on my daily walks. Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past.

For the Ancient Connections Commission I plan to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford in Ireland, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will invite people to send me a sherd they have found in their garden, or on walks in their local area. I will record the finds, research and archive them, and, add them to an online map set up for the project. I will be consulting archaeologists on the submitted finds in case anything submitted is of archaeological interest.”

Diasporas and Descendents

“As part of this project, I also hope to research people who emigrated from Pembrokeshire and Wexford to the Diaspora in the 19th century and reaching out to their descendants. I will seek out ceramic fragments from the places where those families now live and asking them to send photographs, which could possibly inspire new art works.

The form of the final physical artworks will be developed in relation to the material uncovered in the research process, but – in addition to the virtual map – I envisage remaking some of the sherds in glass which will be incorporated into new artwork to be exhibited at the end of the Ancient Connections Project.” – Linda Norris

Date: September 2020 – December 2022

Learn More at: www.linda-norris.com