Composting Estate seminar: Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright (Matterlurgy) Water, Air and Ice: Elemental Composting Across Art and Science

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place organized by sensingsite.

10.30-12.00 pm Friday 17 July, 2020  
online presentation
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Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright (Matterlurgy) 
Water, Air and Ice: Elemental Composting Across Art and Science
Air_Morphologies, Film Still, Matterlurgy, 2019

This presentation will follow on from Hunter and Wright’s project Rehearsals for Uncertain Futures, shared during sensingsite's Approaching Estate seminars in Spring 2019. For this session, they will pivot discussions around a new work on air pollution, created during a residency at Delfina Foundation, London. The artist duo will touch upon the relations of sites, bodies and anthropogenic materials, the role of simulation and technology within art and aesthetics and the ways in which experts and non-experts contribute to what an interdisciplinary inquiry is or can be.

Matterlurgy is a collaborative practice between London based artists Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright. Their work critically and creatively explores the intersections of art, ecology, science and technology: operating across multiple platforms including installation, performance and sound. 

This event is the last in the series, documentation and recordings of all the seminars are available at:

Composting Estate seminar: Jeremie Magar and Adriana Cobo-Corey 26 June 2020

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.

this event took place on 26 June, 2020
watch here:

Jeremie Magar
Towards Something: Walking on the N17 Line

What am I walking on? 

Is there something here, or nothing?  

Who drew this line? 

What can I say and what can I see on line? 

This project was born out of a personal sense of emergency/unease with meaning (of all sorts: politics, biography, family, history, facts, false, etc.). If Tim Ingold establishes the genealogy of writing within traces and drawing practices, I struggle to see lines when I read articles printed on disposable materials or shining on the screen in today's context. The origin of language (and its potentialities) is lost, and I am about to lose the meaning attached to them too.  Being With Words outside of institutions of knowledge (not available to me at present) is an unsettling experience as they've been weaponized by many conflicting parties in society to demarcate battlegrounds. So when I can’t see lines in words (and with them the possibility of intimacy/meaning), I search for them outside, embedded in the landscape, walking on an invisible one: the N17 postcode border. 
Jeremie Magar is an independent researcher and artist who previously studied for his MAFA at Central Saint Martins. 
Adriana Cobo-Corey
Methodologies  for situated research on Granary Square, King's Cross 

I will be expanding on some of the methodologies  used for my PhD research  Taste Untold: Critical Performance Practice and Contemporary Public Space.  The presentation will outline the overall frame of the research, along its  basic aims and objectives, to then move on to discuss some of the methods used for conceiving and delivering performance interventions in Granary Square, the chosen research-practice site. Aligned with some of the core interests driving the Composting Estate seminar series, the presentation will elaborate on practices of power specific to the King's Cross Estate, and potential strategies to question and temporarily realign them.  

Adrian Cob-Corey is a PhD researcher at Central Saint Martins. 

Composting Estate seminar: Kate Corder and Judy Price 28 February 2020

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.
Museum and Study Collection
Central Saint Martins 
10.30am  – 1.00pm
28 February 2020 

Kate Corder
Composting plot ecology, plant material, earthing and unearthing toads

Meanwhile at the plot a continuation of the practice of toad ecology (hunting evidence of lizards, toads and frogs) exists. On unearthing the compost bins (do we) discover who or what lives in them? Is it just the non-human life forms or are we making new earth? The experience of working on site will be discussed with a re-digging.

In this presentation I discuss the use of allotment plots as art research study areas. Since completing my PhD titled “The Allotment Plot: Place Tilled - An investigation into plant material, rural labour and cultivation within art practice”, I have continued explorations of allotment plots as a theme in my practice. I investigate the Plot as site, which is subject to environmental occurrences, wildlife agents and human labour; through time all of these things merge, constructing and deconstructing the site.

In reference to Rancière’s ‘the key formula of the aesthetic regime of art is that art is an autonomous form of life’, (the aesthetic revolution and it's outcomes, 118), and Lippard’s and Kaprow’s essays affirming art can become life and life become art, the blurring of these concepts assists my methodology. The Plot activity is situated in everyday life interacting with human and non-human factors. The plot surface is worked and reworked similarly to painting a canvas or a continually adjusted installation. Plant matter is produced and productivity emerges. Actions and observations can be translated through drawings, images, film, installation and creative writing from the site to non-site gallery as exhibition.

Allotment Gardens are a social construct originating from the late 18th century, when significant increases in Land Enclosures, loss of work due to new machinery, the Industrial Revolution and European Wars, created food poverty and a need for dedicated land for the working class to cultivate plant-based food. In the 21st Century, land is often contested, so allotment work can still be seen as political activism. Allotment gardens and art in the UK are defined under a governmental taxonomy of leisure (and culture) rather than labour.
My first municipal allotment site, Plot 326, was in a wild state when I received it. The over growing nature of the place became part of my research. My art practice on the plots is mostly invisible to the observer. My processes include photographic images made in to film and arrangements of trees products, cardboard; newspaper and wood layered and rearranged, becoming habitats for wildlife agents. I study making new earth through composting plant-based material, unearthing compost bins and using the earth on the allotment plot influenced by the Harrison’s ‘Spoils’ Pile Reclamation’ (1976-78: ongoing) Art Park process.

Conversations during the presentation dig in to approaches to practice, exhibition translation, accessibility to audience, experience, encounter, limited and practicality of access and whether or not it is a social practice. I find the public is not always human. Questions are asked about the garden being productive for whom; is obtaining a yield, an extraction, or lettings things happen the productivity? Is it more important I cultivate the plot site for the toads to inhabit and encounter? There is no conclusion. Meanwhile translating the site and on going explorations will be developed for further non-site / gallery exhibitions and encounters. (Postscript: During lockdown I took part in Sensingsite zoom meeting 15/05/2020 from Plot 21).

Kate Corder (PhD) is an artist and researcher. Her work explores garden plots, place, site and ecologies constructed through human and non-human activity. Her varied methodologies include rural labour using gardening allotments. Previous recent work includes HOW – Heathrow Orchard Walks (2014-2016) and taking part in the Document Alternative project.

Judy Price
The End of the Sentence

Phoenix Rising (Griffin Mosaic, Holloway Women’s Prison Swimming Pool), 2020, Judy Price. 

The End of the Sentence presents artist Judy Price’s research on Holloway Women’s Prison.   The work reflects on the impact of the criminal justice system on women and makes visible issues around gender, class, race and economy in the prison context and develops Price’s research-led practice, concerned with how artists can produce different ways of thinking about contested sites and engage with collective struggles.

Holloway Women’s Prison (1852-2016) was the largest women’s prison in Western Europe and the only women’s prison in London. Its prisoners “included some of the leading freedom fighters of our age, such as the suffragettes [and Greenham Common women], but the vast majority were always imprisoned because of poverty and injustice, addiction and abuse”.  The End of the Sentence draws on individual and collective stories of the prison, through the networks, collaborations and relationships Price had developed through the coalition group Reclaim Holloway , which has been actively campaigning for a Women’s Building on the former prison site since it was decommissioned in 2016. The Women’s Building will be a service hub helping vulnerable women stay out of the criminal justice system, a transformational space for the local community, and a positive legacy for the thousands of women held in Holloway prison over its 164-year history.

As part of The End of the Sentence, Price’s moving-image installation The Good Enough Mother explores the incarcerated pregnancy, drawing on transcriptions of 28 interviews by midwife Dr Laura Abbott, as well as the field work and writing of forensic psychotherapist Pamela Windham Stewart.   Co-scripted with artist and writer Andrew Conio the script  is re-voiced by actors from Clean Break, a women’s theatre company that uses theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar and whose members have lived experience of the criminal justice system.

Price’s photographic work draws on her time spent in the decommissioned Holloway prison building, which she lives directly behind, and the wealth of intimate objects from the prison held in the Islington Museum archives. Photographs of hair and a fire hose plug examine some of the less obvious traces of prison control – in the event of a fire in a cell at HMP Holloway, the small yellow plug was removed from the door and a hose inserted blasting water into the cell, before allowing the inmate to evacuate. Phoenix Rising is an image of the griffin mosaic on the base of the swimming pool installed in Holloway in the 1970s new redevelopment. Many of the incarcerated women referred to the griffin as a phoenix and it is in light of this and the recent campaign for a Women’s Building that Price embellishes the reading of the Griffin as a potential site of transformation.

Price’s research culminated in an exhibition at the Stanley Picker Gallery  in 2020 which featured new work by Price, archival material, and artists and writers invited by Price including Erika Flowers, Carly Guest & Rachel Seoighe, Hannah Hull, Katrina McPherson and Nina Ward.

Price is currently developing a long form film with support from the Stanley Picker Gallery, Arts Council England and the Elephant Trust.

The Good Enough Mother
14 minute excerpt of the film

Composting Estate seminar: Fay Hoolahan and John Wild 7 February 2020

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.
Room A002 Central Saint Martins 
10.30am  – 1.00pm
7 February 2020 

Fay Hoolahan

After the Park: Reflections on ‘Estate’ as a Site of Recollection

My work is concerned with the recording of the transient experience of place, investigating the temporal nature of landscape and exploring processes of disruption within ordered functional space. I am interested in how the site of the public park can be understood in terms of Robert Smithson's concept of "a thing for us" and how it is possible to represent the ways that we engage with place as a practice of "complex spatial wandering" (Yves-Alan Bois).

This presentation discusses the findings of ongoing research into the making and archiving of 'projected meanderings' in the form of moving image content and audio recordings. The project is part of my wider investigations into film as spatial practice which utilises a concept of 'creative geography' to describe the process by which place is mapped in moving image art through the dimension of time. The practice challenges notions of 'place' as a fixed point and explores the idea of equivocality in terms of how place is constructed, created, documented and ultimately defined. I am concerned about the varied and sometimes conflicting functions of places: the patterns of design and control, the processes of natural and human intervention.

Developing from my ongoing research into the filmic mapping of natural spaces within the urban environment, I describe a performance/workshop at Approaching Estate, which centred on the specific site of Furtherfield in Finsbury Park. Around the park is part of an ongoing series of film and sound pieces responding to particular sites, entitled Talking Line Walks. The work investigates the experience of a place as explored as projected travel, something by design yet also random, unexpected due to the temporal nature of landscape. Relating to notions of the picturesque, Smithson describes how we experience landscape via 'manifold relationships', not as isolated instances. This work seeks to explore how these different levels of experience are juxtaposed in relation to both immediate memory (the experience of the location as a site of engagement) and wider recollections (internal landscape of associations): how, as participants, we undergo the process of being transported into a more mythical or mytho-geographical space. 

The work uses moving image of four compass viewpoints from the centre of Finsbury Park with four independent soundtracks: one being sounds recorded on location at the time of filming, while two others are specifically designed soundtrack 'Walks' relating to the site of Finsbury Park. The fourth soundtrack is a constructed 'Walk' representing the different but related site of an unnamed park in south London. Each of the three 'Walks' consists of atmosphere sounds, voiceover descriptions and stories relating to the sites. In presentation, they were played independently, that is, not synchronized, while one of the Walks was mobilized, via a blue tooth speaker, which I transported myself through the space of Furtherfield Commons. The aim was to create disruption and discontinuity, at odds with the designed auditory environment. Participants were to write down comment on their thoughts and recollections, which might be precipitated by the experience of the work. The presentation discusses the outcomes and related research developing from this performance.

Fay Hoolahan is an artist and filmmaker, whose practice engages with questions of place, landscape, memory and identity. Recent projects include Great North Way and Talking Line Walks.

Around the Park (Trailer)
A02 On the hill Talking Line Walk 2:
A03 To the marsh Talking Line Walk 3:

John Wild 
Psychogeography in the Digital City

How does it feel to walk the streets of East London when the city has been expanded by technologies that blur the boundary between the physical world and the digital realm, between physical objects and their representations in the digital field as data?

Psychogeography is the study of the geographical environment’s influence on the mind or behaviour using walking techniques from avant-garde art. Psychogeography in the Digital City develops an original psychogeographically-inspired art practice to research the convergence of digital technology and the physical space of the city. The investigation aims to discover whether the knowledge produced from psychogeography’s creative practices can critically inform and enhance the discourse around the role ubiquitous and mobile computing plays in the production of space in East London. 

Digital technology is rapidly converging with the physical space of the city, constructing a material infrastructure of cables that feed an invisible infrastructure of wireless signals, connecting a multitude of digital devices. This convergence between digital technologies and the city has enabled a reconfiguration of the spaces that exist within the city and the creation of new types of space. Digital technology can now be shown to play an active role in the production of the space of the city through digital representational practices. The infrastructure of mobile and ubiquitous computing also impacts on city space, from the siting of mobile phone masts within the city to the digging up of the roads to lay optical fibre networks that link large anonymous data centres. The relationship between digital technology and the city is a complex one in which the convergence of digital technology and the city can be shown to have expanded not just the space of the city but what the space of the city is. 

Psychogeography in the Digital City, investigates the spatial impact of these new circuits of digitality on the felt experience of East London. Psychogeography in the Digital City is conceived both as a method of research and a practice of resistance.

John Wild holds a Ph.D. from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Queen Mary University of London.

Composting Estate seminar: Pat Naldi and Julie Marsh 24 January 2020

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.
Room A002 Central Saint Martins 
10.30am  – 1.00pm
24 January 2020 

Pat Naldi
Who Owns the Sea?

Who Owns the Sea? is the second in a trilogy of projects that investigate territorial ownership, and its political, societal and psychological impact by and for humans. The first in the trilogy, the video work Who Owns the Land? (2016) takes as its starting point the ad coelum doctrine - a principle of property law in the UK. Originating in the 13th century, this ancient law proclaims the extent of land ownership beyond that of the surface. Although now acceptable in a limited form, real property/estate encompasses airspace, wild animals, trees, plants, flowers, water, mines and minerals above, on, and below the surface of the land. The video work probes land ownership and its societal consequences on public rights, ecological systems, power, and value. Filmed on location across the high moorland and fell landscape of Northumberland and Cumbria (UK), on land surface, horizon, and below ground in disused lead mines, this work, with a view to make transparent the UK’s most valuable asset, asks: Who owns the land? Who owns the ground below? Who owns the sky above? 

The second in the trilogy of projects Who Owns the Sea? (the third will be Who Owns the Sky?), has in its early stages of research been informed and influenced by the territorial waters surrounding Gibraltar a politically contested British Overseas Territory located at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. A highly contested stretch of sea since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, and a near daily site of military, and police incursions resulting in political bickering, these waters are continuously shrinking due to the land reclamation undertaken by both Gibraltar and Algeciras in Spain. Future research and production of a strand of Who Owns the Sea? will be sited on the Arctic Ocean. Acting as ground zero in climate change, the focus of the research will question, explore and address the critical environmental, political, and human impact of sea ownership as experienced through the decreasing Arctic sea ice cap, and its effect on ecosystems, weather patterns, and territorial waters. The Arctic sea ice cover which helps determine the Earth’s climate, fell to its second lowest level in 2019. Humanity is dependent on the ocean and cryosphere. It interconnects with the climate system through water, energy, and carbon. The impact of this melting ice cover is also political, military, and most of all economic as several nations vie for ownership and control over its greater navigable waters – a new Northwest Passage – and the opportunities this will present. Who Owns the Sea? will address these global implications through the local. The research and production expedition to the Arctic Ocean is scheduled for June 2021.

Pat Naldi is a lecturer in MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies at Central Saint Martins.

Julie Marsh
Assembly at Old Kent Road Mosque

fig 1

fig 2

fig 3

fig 4
For the approaching estates seminar series I presented Assembly at Brick Lane Mosque, a site-specific performance comprising of a 1:1 scaled moving floor projection with surround sound. Assembly used site-integrity as a working methodology - a particular but original mode of site-specific practice that potentiates a dynamic exchange between site, artist, device and audience. Site-integrity repositions the act of representation from its retrospective or projective dimensions towards that which is performed and is experiential. Assembly was made respecting the religious and cultural rules of the mosque; the camera was not permitted to film in front of the people praying, nor could it show their faces. Subsequently, a mechanical rig was constructed to film from above, at a constant speed from the entrance to the Mihrab in the main prayer hall and female prayer room (see fig.1) The pre-recorded footage of prayer was then projected back into both sites using the same automated device. The controlled motorisation of the projection re-traced the movement of the recorded image, giving the effect of only the frame moving through each physical space, constantly revealing and concealing the actual site below, temporarily dissolving the religious/social boundaries of the mosque (see fig.2). 

In September 2019 Assembly moved to a new site; Old Kent Road Mosque renovated from a former pub in Southwark (see fig.3). Old Kent Road Mosque is due for demolition/redevelopment to build a new Islamic centre for the community. Assembly will perform both the main prayer hall and the female prayer hall before the building is demolished in late 2020. The female congregation at Old Kent Road Mosque have built a large, active community, organising many support groups and events. Their prayer space is of equal size and capacity to the main prayer hall directly above. An LCD monitor connects the two spaces as the imam is broadcast live in the female space (see fig.4). Identical rigs will be made in both spaces to reflect the unison of the two congregations via dual moving projections performing both prayer sites in synchronized time and space. 

Interviews and research findings from Assembly are being used within a collaborative project led by architect Shahed Saleem and the V&A for the Architecture Biennale in 2020. This project will explore themes of immigration, hybridity and multi-culturalism through three Mosques in London; Brick Lane, Old Kent Road and Harrow. The findings have also been disseminated via the following conferences and journal articles.

‘Investigating the interface between Muslim prayer sites and artistic interventions’, Fourteenth International Conference on The Arts in Society, 2019 (Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon) 
‘Exploring the interface between art and sacred spaces’ Sacred Spiritual Secular Conference, 2019 (School of Architecture- University of Westminster) which led to being nominated for the A+C award (Art and Christianity). 
Journal articles: 
‘Investigating the Interface between Muslim Prayer Sites and Artistic Interventions' The Arts in Society Research Network Journal 
‘Assembly: Performing the materiality of Muslim prayer spaces’ Scene, intellect journal 
‘SITE-INTEGRITY’ The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR)

Julie Marsh is an artist filmmaker, researcher and senior lecturer at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster. Julie studied at London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, completing a PhD in 2017.

Information about the full series:

Composting Estate seminar: Ingrid Pumayalla and Greer MacKeogh 10 January 2020

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.

Room A002 Central Saint Martins 
10.30am  – 1.00pm
10 January 2020

Ingrid Pumayalla
Gathering Organic Matter to Fertilise the Land

Gathering Matter to Fertilize the Land is a presentation of three different site-specific works completed in 2019 in Trujillo (Peru), Stokkoya (Norway) and Leipzig (Germany). They form a trilogy and are linked through narratives of displacement and mythology, also drawing thematically on rural migration as a global phenomenon. These video works invite contemporary audiences to reflect on our human connections with and responsibility towards nature.

The approach I use in my practice is to study the myths and rituals of pre-Columbian cultures in the Andes and the Amazon in order to address the collective loss of nature. The hair (cf. above) is a visio-cultural custom, a repetitive concept and symbol, which I use to state the strength of the female identity in the Andes and its capacity to pass on knowledge. 

i) Cantos al Agua is a video-performance made at the sites of Santo Domingo-Huaca el Brujo (100-350 AD) and the city of Chan Chan (850 AD), the first settlements of human habitation being found here on the shore of the Chicama river and dated to 14000 BC. This is the area where the city of Trujillo stands at present. At the archaeological site of el Brujo, the mummified body of the Lady of Cao, the first female governor and priest from the Moche Civilization was found in 2006. Nearby is the Huaca el Brujo, a construction made with adobe, standing 17 metres tall and bearing an open cut that was made during the arrival of the Spanish to the area. The site of Santo Domingo was a ceremonial site at which were found several drawings and symbols of animals and water. In 2016 the largest triple spiral (650 AD) was destroyed because a tractor passed over it, driven by ‘land invaders’. There is a 60,000-inhabitant housing project outside the area at the moment, initiated by the local government and due to the increasing population coming from the Andes towards the coastal cities. The actions used in this work are based on the acts of weaving and chanting as a language to make offerings to the wounded landscape and mourning what has been lost in this land. 

ii) On the island of Stokkøya, Norway, there was a landslide that separated the island from the mainland for a period of a month in September of 2019.  Three artists are invited every year to this community in order to produce a collaborative piece responding to the landscape and site of Stokkoya. The Bigda 2.0 Project along with the Afjord municipality aim to enhance the rural community, developing infrastructures, making the area more attractive to people who would like to move back to this area from metropolitan conurbations. The increase of heavy industrialization on the land and because of the wind farms used to create clean energy issues have emerged within the natural balance of this place. According to the locals these caused the recent landslide. The piece was made by responding to the event using found material from the landslide. We took the metal from the distorted crash barriers to create a public sculpture along the road opposite to Bygda 2.0. The sculptures were presented with a sound piece by the artists, reading social media output created by the locals when building strategies in order to access the island.

ii) In August of 2019 more than 2 millions of hectares were burned down during fires in the Amazonian rainforest. The fires were started because of the agricultural industrialization of the area aimed at raising cattle for meat consumption. As a response to this I created the video 'Where did the creatures from the forest go?' (20’ 03”). The video presents the myth of Curiwarmi. “The myth tells that Curiwarmi (gold woman) saw the Amazon on fire and she ran to the river to save her life. After a while, because of sadness, she fell sleep. She woke up later on the shore of the Makkelberg Lake, in Saxony, Germany” The video performance includes the creation of knitted pieces in order to narrate the myth performatively using the method through which the old Peruvians used to relate stories in the Quechua language, expressing them through knitting, textiles and pottery.

Where did the creatures from the forest go? 
password: Curiwarmi 

Cantos al agua
password: Chanchan 

Ingrid uses performance, photography, moving image and installations to address migration and diasporas, and how the loss of home re-structures and transforms identity. Her work explores the role of art in transforming and repairing loss. Ingrid is a recent graduate of MA Fine Art at CSM and has recently completed residencies in Norway and Germany.

Greer MacKeogh
Acts of Hospitality

In the time and space provided to me by Composting Estate, I gave an account of my PhD practice and research. At the time, I had just switched from part-time, to full-time research. I was grateful for the chance to review my work-to-date, my work-in-progress and to receive feedback and questions from the group, that since have helped to deepen my research. 

My research, Acts of hospitality, the role of guest and host as art practice, centres on my experiences as artist, guest and host in three sites in Co. Roscommon in Ireland.  As an artist, when working in community-based contexts, I have often embodied the role of either the ‘guest’ - as outsider and innovator, or the ‘host’ – as initiator or facilitator. In this research I endeavour to move between the position of guest and host, interchanging and exploring these perspectives. I understand hospitality as a kind of movement that flows between these subject positions, and a means to account for the various subtle transitions.

I have identified the hotel as an ideal site to explore how these roles of guest and host are played out, contested and expressed. Under the title The Hotel, I set out to trace the complex dynamics of hospitality in rural communities in Ireland, while questioning what might be revealed about wider notions of hospitality on a national and international scale.

My enquiry consists of a body of practical and site-specific research in which the roles of guest and host are explored, disrupted and expanded to produce emergent forms of hospitality. A praxis, of building relationships over time, while exploring the historical and cultural conditions that lie beneath or behind Irish identity, is central to my research into hospitality as art practice. 

Greer MacKeogh is an artist-researcher studying for her PhD at UAL.

Information about the full series:

Composting Estate seminar: Steven Ball and Louise Fowler 13 December 2019

A series of seminars examining processes and materials of composition and decomposition of site and place.

Room A002 Central Saint Martins 
10.30am  – 1.00pm
13 December 2019

Steven Ball
Amateur Archaeology

‘Amateur Archaeology’ follows on from ‘Of the Estate’, my presentation at Approaching Estate, which discussed the painting practice of my late uncle Terry Ball, who painted landscape views of the St. Helier council housing estate in South London where he lived from early childhood to late in life. His paintings were made from around the mid 1950s to the late 1990s, after which he moved from the estate. ‘Amateur Archaeology’ explores other aspects of Terry Ball’s life and work, narrating as a work in progress a form of ‘amateur personal archaeology’. Through processes of excavation and reconstruction, making connections using available material (published, unpublished, archival, personal, and memorial), I reflect upon Terry Ball’s professional relationship with archaeological practices, and their personal resonance in my own life and creative practice.

Starting back on St. Helier Estate, as the site of some of my own earliest experiences of the specificity of place, I trace Terry Ball’s professional career as an artist making reconstruction drawings of ancient monuments for what was to become English Heritage, from the 1969 until the late 1990s. His processes, methodology, influences, and predecessors, are outlined with extracts from writings about his work, reproductions of his reconstruction drawings and paintings, how these are situated in relation to the work of archaeology, as well as how elements from his personal life occasionally find their way into his otherwise ‘scientific’ approach.

I then move briefly back to the St. Helier Estate to examine a hitherto unnoticed formal similarity between a digital ‘panoramic’ image of St. Helier Hospital that I made around 2000, and one of Terry’s paintings of the same subject.

I then look further back in historical time, to examine Terry’s life and work as a drawing assistant to renowned archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the Holy Land, starting in Jericho in 1957 and ending in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1967. This centres on a collection of his black and white photographs, now donated to the Palestine Exploration Fund archive in Greenwich, photographs taken during his time in the region. I examine his photographic representation of the landscape and archaeological dig sites, which often take the form of panoramic photographic montage, reminiscent of the later painting of St. Helier Hospital mentioned earlier above. I describe what I have unearthed about his time in the region, his relationship to the place and his work, how the 1967 Israeli incursion that precipitated the Six Day War, was to hasten his exit from Jerusalem, as well as speculate around how he might have arrived in the position of working with Kenyon.

I end by relating how I was given a poetry notebook of his after his death, how some of the contents of the notebook seems to, repeatedly and through many reiterative variations, refer to his experience working as a stonemason in Jerusalem, and how I transcribed these passages to form a lyric that I have recorded as a song as part of my song writing and recording practice.

Louise Fowler
Once upon a time in the city...

The ‘once upon a time’ of fairytale exists outside conventional, historical time. It sits above, upon, any time, and at the same time it exists alongside all time. It is a time of possibility, where the usual rules do not apply, and imagination might take flight. 

The chaos of once upon a time appears to be the opposite of the rational, ordered time of archaeology. 

But varied perceptions of time, including time in its more imaginative forms, run through the practice of archaeological excavation. Gavin Lucas outlines several, including those which are central to the methods of archaeological fieldwork, namely abstract and quantified time, and time that is constituted by events (Lucas 2005). Kitty Hauser discusses how the concept of a multi-temporal present, which she describes as an ‘archaeological’ imagination inspired work by British neo-Romantic writers and artists of the mid 20th-century (Hauser 2007). Shannon Lee Dawdy writes of how imagined pasts are entangled with the material present in New Orleans, drawing on Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura (Dawdy 2016). Inspired by these writers and others, here I revisit some of the photography and records created in the space-time of an archaeological excavation that took place on a construction site in the City of London several years ago. 

The excavation employed the methods most commonly used by archaeologists in Britain, which prioritise time that is made of events through a concern with what archaeologists call stratigraphic context. A stratigraphic context is a physical trace, which can be seen and felt in the present, of an action carried out in the past. To properly excavate and record a context, the archaeologist must not only be able to define and record its physical limits in space, but also to imagine or deduce the action in the past that produced such a trace in the present. Contexts are excavated in chronological order, in order to understand and record their relationships as an interrelated sequence of events, and a drawn and written record is created. But this way of thinking about time is not the only way that it is experienced during the process of excavation, which also incorporates the rhythm and demands of structured working days with associated deadlines, and which also requires the archaeologist to make  imaginative leaps to bridge gaps between past and present. These include moments when the archaeologist physically reproduces a past action in the present (the digging of a pit, or the cleaning of a hearth for example), actions which can seem to ‘collapse’ together past and present, creating the experience of a kind of timelessness that is accessible through a historical and linear understanding of time, but which sits outside it. This collapse is also visible in the archive, which contains records of the actions of both archaeologists and events that took place in the deeper past. 

Dawdy, S. L. 2016. Patina: A Profane Archaeology

Hauser, K.  2007. Shadow Sites: Photography, Archaeology, and the British Landscape 1927-1955
Lucas, G. 2005. The Archaeology of Time  

Louise Fowler is an archaeologist with MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology).

Information about the full series: