Progress report – The Sill & Two Artists
As my friend and fellow artist, Michelle Milburn said in her own last post, we haven’t (yet) made any work. That does not mean nothing is happening! Our brains are fizzing with ideas. Our problem is where to start – so many ideas, too many possibilities!
We’ve spent the last few weeks either at Michelle’s or mine teasing out various aspects of the project, laying what we hope will be solid foundations rather than taking a scatter gun approach. A couple of weeks back, we started the day with a ‘mind dump’. Have you heard that expression? Me neither until recently. It means you literally dump everything whirling round in your head onto paper. We put every idea, every thought, concept down on paper – one humongous piece of paper – covered (on both sides) by the time I went home.
I found a free mind mapping app online (Mind Meister in case you are interested) that helped pull everything together in to some sort of cohesive chart, a map that lays out everything, potential sources of funding, exhibition spaces, sources of inspiration, the people/organisations that we can contact with the expertise we need on the geology, archaeology, flora and fauna, etc, specific to the Whin Sill.
This road map is allowing us to see the full potential of the project we’ve chosen to take on (somewhat daunting) so that we can draw up a ‘to do list’. Hopefully as the weather warms up and improves and the day light hours get longer it will be easier to get out ‘into the field’ to sketch and take photographs for reference material.
In May we will be going on what hopefully will be the first of many field trips, on this occasion with someone from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust to show us some of the rare orchids and grasses that are specific to the Whin Sill. That way we will know what we are looking at when we go out by ourselves.
In the meantime, a couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with neighbours. One of them works for the Northumberland National Park (NNP), the other is an amateur astronomer. The NNP neighbour had some very exciting suggestions about how we can harness GPS and digital technology to reach a wider audience with what we are doing. The astronomer neighbour recounted a talk he went to where a recent astrological archaeological research paper was presented to the Astrological Society just a few weeks ago. Some Neolithic stones found near Simonburn are believed to have significance to the summer solstice. Come the summer solstice we will be joining him to see if the research is born out in reality. Then there is the Anglo -Saxon sword that Michelle herself found on the farm, which is now in The British Museum; what about the numerous ruined bastle houses dotted around the farm built by the Border Rievers, from whom Michelle’s husband is a descendant; or the Bronze Age unexcavated burial chambers – you get the gist of what we have to choose from.
We suspect this is going to be an evolving process. The plan this week on my return from Ireland was to make a start by going out at dawn (before the timing of dawn becomes a ridiculously silly hour) to the Sill to sketch and taking photographs. However, Michelle has to pace herself. After a very active weekend repurposing a room in her house as a studio, she has used up all her energy reserves and she is in need of rest so that will have to wait until next week – although I might go out myself on Thursday morning.