The Sill and Two Artists
What do you think of the title for our project? This week I was out in the wilds again where Michelle Milburn and I began fleshing out our plans for our project over the coming year. It is beginning to come together.
Michelle Milburn and some Background
A little bit of background on how the idea came about – with Michelle’s permission. Years ago Michelle and I were acquaintances through Network Artists in Northumberland. She disappeared off the scene +6 years ago, just as her work was beginning to gain some serious attention. Michelle resurfaced four years ago in circumstances that brought us together as friends.
In 2010 Michelle was diagnosed with lymphoma. Stem cell surgery and a trial drug means she is now four years cancer free. She does however have some long term health issues which are a big factor in the way we came to decide on how and where we would concentrate our efforts on this joint project, i.e., it made huge sense to use what is quite literally on her doorstep given that she lives on a farm on the Whin Sill and she isn’t always well enough to get out and about.
The skills each of us brings
We bring to the project a range of diverse skills both artistic and practical. I anticipate we will learn much from each other.
Michelle is a font of knowledge on all things geological, archeological, wild life and more where she lives on the Whin Sill. She is married to a man who can trace his family all the way back to the Border Rievers. Her daughter is studying archeology at university. Michelle is the queen of research – she loves it. She has already been in contact with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the Great North Museum to tap into some of the research project going on on the Sill. Given that she is local she has been busy contacting the relevant farmers and the landowner in the area on which we want to concentrate to gain the necessary permissions for land access to some of the interesting spots we want to check out – the crags, the Bronze age burial chambers, a medieval village and village pond, the loughs and boglands … so much more.
I’ve never taken this kind of in-depth approach to my work before but it feels right. We’ve not got to much creative stuff, as yet, but the potential for what we are looking at is so huge, we both feel we have to set some parameters or we are in danger of being completely overwhelmed.
Mind mapping a little something I picked up from a workshop I did during the week on social media. We got together again on Wednesday and spent the day drinking tea, eating cake (actually we ate egg sandwiches as there was no cake) and mind mapping. Out came a great big piece of paper and out flowed the ideas. Seeing the many potential sources of inspiration and directions in which we can go, written down in black and white, was very useful. There are also various other aspects to factor into the mix that will help us concentrate our minds on what needs to happen alongside the creative stuff or to help the creative stuff to happen.
The Whin Sill
Michelle drew a quick diagram to explain to me what the Whin Sill is and the extent of it. You can read the explanation she gave me here.
Hadrian’s Wall follows the line of the Whin Sill in Northumberland as it forms a natural barrier between England and Scotland. The Sill formed the northern most frontier of Emperor Hadrian’s Roman Empire. Here in Northumberland, The Sill Project is a new development on the wall that received £7.8 million Heritage Lottery Funding to build a flagship centre of discovery that explores the landscapes, history, culture and heritage of Northumberland and the wider North East that will cover all things non-Roman as there is so much more to the area than just the Roman history.
Our mind map is looking at various aspects such as conservation and ecology, geology, archeology, history, culture and heritage. The potential is very wide and we will probably find as time passes that for purely practical reasons we will have to find an area on which to focus but that may mean we choose different areas to focus on or we choose to focus on one area jointly but interpret it in our own individual way.
Much ground work is required – sketchbooks and photographs … meeting and talking to some of the experts currently working on the Sill. I expect gradually a clear direction will emerge in the coming months.