Recap

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Thinking back on what I have been doing recently.

Until recently I’ve been involved with a project, ‘ARTeology’ based on exploring the Creative Wiltshire collections of the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre archive.

After looking at some of the material available I decided to study the work of the Wiltshire based sculptor Roger Leigh and inspired by his way of ‘collaging’ together different elements within a single image, I chose to use collage to produce a series of landscapes.

Rather than producing something that just tried to replicate a view, I felt that I wanted to capture the ‘essence’ of the scene. I also wanted to have some of the elements of the landscape physically within the images that were produced, so I collected water from 2 of the local springs to use when creating the watercolour bases that were torn up and re-configured for my works.

After showing a selection at the first ‘ARTeology’ group exhibition at the Manger Barn, Lacock in April 2018, the feedback from people who saw them allowed me to realise that I was achieving the sense of place that I wanted (although I always worry that I’m not managing it!).

Another group exhibition was held in October at the Museum in Chippenham and a final one held at Town Hall Arts in Trowbridge in January 2019.

Throughout the time I carried on making new images and refining what I wanted, gradually creating work that was becoming more abstracted.

My favourite work from the whole series was the last one I made. This had reduced to the sense of air with a streak of wet land below.

This ‘looseness’ is what I really want to continue with.

I’m also fascinated by the idea of layering things. That things can be hidden in these landscapes – as they are in reality, and also that this can be done intentionally – to cover to hide (like a mistake) or to hide (like a secret).

I also forced myself out of my normal, monochrome, way of working into the use of colour for this project.

I’m glad that I did.

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Guest blog: Joy Bloomfield talks about ARTeology – contemporary artists response to the Creative Wiltshire collections in museums and archives — The Arts in Wiltshire

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What is ARTeology? ARTeology is a project in which artists have responded to the Creative Wiltshire Collection, which has been expanded due to Heritage Lottery Funding, awarded as part of their Collecting Cultures programme. The allocation of a grant to Wiltshire and Swindon after a successful bid in 2013 has meant that accredited collections within […]

via Guest blog: Joy Bloomfield talks about ARTeology – contemporary artists response to the Creative Wiltshire collections in museums and archives — The Arts in Wiltshire

France in July (V) Bayeux. Stone and wood.

IMG_4570blogFor the last couple of days of our holiday we stayed in the town of Bayeux. We’ve only dashed through here in the past to drag the kids around the tapestry, so we decided that this year the town deserved a proper look around.

Here in the cathedral, we saw more of the apotropaic symbols commonly seen in an English medieval church than we had seen elsewhere during the break. Hexafoils and pentangles on the pillars and walls:

The forms that had been carved long ago in the cathedral were also seen on the desks of the courtroom housed in the MAHB museum next door.

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Originally the Bishops Palace, housing the Bishops courtroom, the building was seized as National Property during the revolution and the room used as the court of justice of Bayeux between 1793 and 1987. I couldn’t identify if the woodwork belonged to the revolutionary court, or if it had been shipped in from somewhere else, but people with time on their hands, beliefs and fears all seem to play with drawing the same shapes.

Elsewhere in the MAHB museum were all sorts of interesting things to see, and lots of instances of my favourite sort of structured chaos/chaotic structure. There were large displays on the local lacemaking tradition and about a local porcelain factory that made ceramics for medicinal uses.

The first night that we stayed was Saturday 16th July, and late in the evening we went to a son et lumière performance at the ‘Liberty Tree’ sited between the cathedral and Bishops Palace. Because the gîte that we had been staying in had no wi-fi and a barely intermittent phone signal, we had only just become aware of the carnage in Nice on the 14th, so it was a very moving experience to have all the people around you singing the ‘Marseillaise’ in defiance.

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The illuminations projected onto the tree were the sort that only the French can come up with; psychedelia accompanying Bob Dylan…

Our last day in France and final jog around the cathedral found a couple of the best examples of graffiti for the whole break. Firstly, high on one of the exterior walls near the cathedral, some Scrabble tiles that said it all:

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And lastly, a ship in plain sight (in the right light!) beside the main doors:

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France in July (IV) The Clocktower.

Historic building in larger French towns seems to be rooted in the eighteenth century. – I know that this a sweeping generalisation, but, apart from the ecclesiastical structures and a few earlier houses, most public building is from the around time of the revolution, so it was good to find the old clock tower in St-Jean-d’Angély.

Rebuilt around 1400 on the site of an ancient gate in the twelfth century ramparts, the tower has served many uses, including that as a military prison in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Guess what? Military prisons tend to have graffiti….

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Some seems quite ‘romantic’, such as this flower, other items are slightly more graphic:

And there are lots of references to military manoeuvres and regiments:

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Although the second of these two appears to have been altered a bit (as a result of wishful thinking perhaps?) There were also several altars deeply carved into the stone of the rooms.

There are names all over, this one referring to ‘Fleury Tambow’ mentions that he was a grenadier from the Saintonge regiment (who came in here), and another to Bernard (?):

 

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Following a (totally unrelated) visit to Porchester Castle recently, I’ve found it really interesting to compare some of the French POW graffiti seen there to that from France. The text and style of writing is so similar, and I’m intrigued by the back-to-front N’s.

 

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Porchester castle graffiti

 

According to the details in the tower (which were very good), some of the soldiers had themselves know and recorded by assumed names that had a heroic or patriotic sentiment, thus ‘La Victoire’ and ‘La Prairie’ in this overlaid graffiti referred to men who had been there.

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This last image is very deeply engraved into the stone next to a window looking out over the town. I can’t translate some of the salient words (if it’s even all there) and I’m not sure if the tone is mocking or anguished, but it really demonstrates the power of older graffiti and the resulting connection with past people.

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France in July (III) Animals and prehistory.

Whilst in France this July, we stayed in a gîte close to Aulnay-de–Saintonge. This village is on the Via Turonensis, one of the Compostela routes through France and the church here is a beautiful example of romanesque architecture.

Inside the church were plenty of examples of masons marks and it was interesting to see where the different marks were positioned in different areas of the building, each mason seems to have done both simple and more complex work.

From a pictorial graffiti point of view, we only found one image of note; a bird with a small, crude, hexafoil in its beak, that seemed to be standing on something (a snake perhaps?).

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Nearby at another romanesque church in Melle, there was a lovely image on the pillar next to the north door of a horseman that seemed to echo the statue of the ‘Victorious Knight’ that was carved above the door outside.

Several of these churches seemed to have similar masons’ marks; it would be interesting to know if they were made by the same people or if these marks just happened to be the simplest to create for these working men?

Just for a change, one day we went to visit the neolithic barrow complex at Bougon. There are 5 tumuli here dating from 4800BC and tumulus A has the largest chamber. At 7.8 m x 5 m x 2.25 m high, the area is sub-divided by 2 large monolithic pillars, which also help to hold up the 90 ton roof stone.

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Some of the small flint blade fragments found here.

The structure was excavated in the 1840’s and some 200 skeletons were found, including the skull of a man that had undergone 3 trepanation operations (the last one proved fatal). For a structure that has only been accessible to graffitists for less than 200 years it was interesting to see the markings that were all over. From general scribbles:

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to a motif that would be quite at home in a medieval church, – the VV symbol.