archaeology/ digging/ confluence

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It’s been a productive summer, and a busy start to the winter term. New sculptures have taken shape, been exhibited, and I have become an amateur archaeologist!

 

During August, I visited and participated in the ‘Discover Roman Otford Project’, where the team kindly talked me through the fascinating history of the Roman Villa they are excavating. I was able to join the digging and learned the process of recording finds. Whilst kneeling on a Roman floor made of tiny brick tesserae to uncover a post-hole, the sense of the lives lived out centuries ago in this domestic space was almost palpable. To my amazement, the archaeologists gave me a collection of Roman period oyster shells and a few bags of the tesserae to take back to the studio with me to use as art materials. The tesserae are softer on one side, where they have been gently worn by the passage of feet. I am excited to see how these exquisite materials find a place in the work I make at Tonbridge School.

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In other news, I have been working on a collaborative project called ‘Confluence’ with artist Maureen Jordan, who is also based in Kent. We met on a residency at the Vermont Studio Center last spring, and have kept in touch and recently decided to work together on a site specific installation in St Mary’s Church, Burham. This beautiful church is almost a thousand years old, and bears the traces of multiple alterations.

St Mary’s Church Burham

St Mary’s Church Burham

 

The sculptures that I made for Confluence reference the walls of the church, which are white and flecked with (amongst other materials) pieces of Roman brick. As a result, these bizarre forms do not seem incongruous in the space, but appear to reflect the fabric of the church. This goes one step further within the sculptures which have mirrors in their depths, giving the illusion of holes stretching beyond the floor and drawing the architecture into the work. The series of three fragmented and crumbling ‘vessel’ forms speak of the actions of containing and drinking water, exploring our connection to the past through this most essential resource. Lined with earth, they are both relic and archaeological dig conflated into one form.

 

Throughout the installation, materials collide: glass transmutes into neon light, dark smudges of earth ripple across the tiles, mirrored surfaces draw the fabric of the church into the work, and sculptural forms reference the colour and texture of the walls. 

Caroline Bugby