I’ve always had an interest in landscape and heritage. It’s one of the reasons that brought me to the Scottish Borders in the late 70’s. The village of Ancrum just along the road from the workshop and gallery and the surrounding area has a very long and rich history. From the time of Iron Age people living on Castle Hill, Bronze Age gatherings at Harestanes stone circle, through to the busy Medieval period with Royal visits and religious dignitaries to the Bishops Palace, its ruins resounding to the war-torn years of the 17th century through to the agricultural improvements and “big hoose” builds of the 18th and 19th century.Ancrum has borne witness to Prehistoric ceremonies, Iron age fortifications, Roman infantries, Anglo-Saxon warriors, Medieval pageantry, Border reivers, Georgian carriages and Victorian farmhands.
All of Scottish and European history and society has made the village a site of continual occupation for over 4,000 years and in September last year I was delighted to get involved with the locally run excavations at the Mantle Walls, probable site of a Bishops Palace in the 12th century. Above are some of the field walking finds found in the 1980’s during field walking and metal detecting before the site was scheduled by Historic Scotland. They have never publicly been shown before.
Some of the work of Ancrum and District Heritage Society includes raising awareness of the antiquities and traditions of the area. To this end we have been carrying out archaeological excavations, preserving and recording structures, archiving documents and images, researching oral and written evidence - all contributing to a greater understanding and knowledge of our community’s collective past. This work is all carried out voluntarily by a committed group of local folk, keen to bring all this cultural wealth to the attention of others. It’s interesting, fascinating, perplexing, gory, unjust, curious, political, enlightening and ultimately revealing.
Everything just on standby. Waiting for the go ahead to get back making. Strange not hearing the thump and chop of folks working the wood. Missing it all bad. Dave and Gail the mainstays of the course work feeling the same. Missing our Friday catch ups with work placements, college interns, school escapes spoon club and our returning course attendees. ! I forget how much traffic there usually through the place.
Branch reflections in moving water. The undercurrents twist and contort the limbs of the tree. The tree pushes and pulls the pressure of the wind.
I’ve been working on a series of painted bowls. The drawings are from years ago but with some applied decoration. I like eating from wooden utensils and wanted some colour for the “ Sunday best” dishes. Imagining them on the old dresser in my imaginary cottars howff ! Just got to get the right paints for this project and treat the burnt out bowl. They should look ok?
You cannie beat a good looking dry stane wall or dyke. There’s quite a few hawthorn hedges in my locale as well. Each to their own. The old guys used to say the poorer the ground the more walls you’d have. The better the ground the more likely you were to see hawthorn hedges. Clearing the marginal hills of stone gave a more readily available supply of material I suppose. I’ve seen a few hedges getting ripped out in my day but I am seeing more being reinstated. Prefer a hedge because you can sneak a few trees in as well. Anyway this is a typical Border style wall., near Morebattle. Lichen on it will be 100+ years old probably.
In my mind there is no boundary between the physical world and the spiritual (or other) world. My world of “spirit” is not primitive or pagan in terms of religion but a natural perception of myself remaining part of or integral to the natural environment.
Western thought is based on philosophical theory of dualism, that matter and spirit, body and mind are separate states that cannot ever blend. Current research in quantum physics suggest that the idea of the perception of reality allows for multi-dimensions to exist. My work consists of symbols, patterns, images that have been left in the physical world but created in the “other” world.
Seems like an age away. This was the first course of 2020. We’ve had to postpone fourteen since then. Not be long now ... but different I suspect.
Always been concerned about low flying aircraft over Scotland - and have myself been the subject of some observation because of my interest. This lockdown episode has been quite devastating on tourism and jobs through the clampdown on air travel. Been some massive layoffs with the big commercial passenger airlines. But they’ve got a cheek asking for bailouts when registered in the Protectorate of the Cumming Islands or wherever. O’Leary and Branson can go fek themselves !
However it is interesting to see who is flying around up there in the past few weeks. I was keeping my eyes open for the midday (our time) Beijing to Dublin flight every day. Or the 3.30 Singapore - Prestwick or the Brize Norton airbus sojourns up makes chem trails off Peterhead. Or indeed the increase in small private jets with no registered destination. It’s been great to have blue skies and imagine myself being that indigenous tribesman in the Amazon , not knowing anything about international aviation and waiting for a sign as the great silver bird passed over my longhouse. It’ll not be too long before the skies become filled once again with long white clouds - shame really.