Timespan Translocation Residency
May - July 2013
In May 2013, I was invited to Timespan to be Artist in Residence for seven weeks, to make new work in response to the excavation of the longhouse at the Caen settlement. This excavation was part of a series of events commemorating the bicentenary of the Kildonan Clearances, culminating in the Translocation Festival. My research explored notions of home, the Kildonan Clearances (including diaspora and migration), excavating and documenting, art and archaeology. Out of this research and time spent daily at the dig, I made new work using a variety of photographic techniques to create new artefacts that were displayed alongside the findings of the excavation.
The Diaspora Stones are a series of photographs printed onto stone looking at key themes such as home, abandonment, the land, and migration (using birds as a metaphor for human migration). These stones were found on Helmsdale beach and come from different geological eras. Rock types in the local area include: metamorphic, granite, old red sandstone, flint, slate, quartz and conglomerates. Over geological history (100s of millions of years) these have moved from all over Scotland to arrive at Helmsdale beach. These stones have dispersed, so they could also be a kind of geological diaspora. Much like the people in the Clearances, who dispersed from the glens to the sea and beyond. The photographs now printed onto these various stones, become image-fossils.
During my residency I adopted several approaches when making work. Eventually I plan to make an artists book to document this residency. After the residency I displayed these approaches in a set of antique drawers. Contents included: tests of the stone printing process, beach archaeology, cyanotype photograms of some of the excavation finds and the Clearances story quilt. The second row of drawers included three images from ‘The Descendants’, a collaboration with three of the descendants of Caen. The first two are portraits within the longhouse footings and make reference to the practice of using the human form as a scale in archaeological site photography. The third image comprises of a fireplace within a Caen descendant’s home printed and then re-photographed within the longhouse excavation.
Read more about this residency here.