Digging in to the site

As part of my ongoing investigations into the Wylfa site I have been working on the archaeology that is taking place in preparation for a possible new power station adjacent to the old Wylfa site. No doubt this is adding something to the cost of nuclear power as there are upwards of 80 trained archaeologists working to uncover the neolithic henge, 1st century village, 5th century graveyard and much else besides. We are still trying to get permission from Horizon to go onto the site itself but they have agreed to work with us to try and create something for the local community.


In the meantime a study day at Plas Gyn-y-Weddw with Simon Callery and Stefan Gant proved inspirational as they have been working in Denbighshire alongside the excavation of a hill fort there. I have been interested in Simon Callery’s work since he made the Segusbury Project, casting a whole section of excavation of chalk downs. Here he has worked in heavily pigmented cloths on the ground to explore the three dimensional experience of the landscape as revealed by excavations. The result is a four layered stitched cloth painting, the size of the gallery wall and inviting the viewer to walk around and experience the temporality of the land.


Stefan Gant is fascinated by the process of digging and has made many drawings of this action as well as many sound recordings. Here have has found new ways of combining these two into new and abstract digital forms.



Practicing Deep Time

Just back from a really stimulating weekend up in the far North of Scotland at Timespan, a great little gallery in Helmsdale – punching above its weight I would say. Bridget and I got a great deal out of it and will no doubt post more when we have a bit more time. The theme was about communicating deep time and it brought together practitioners but also a few from the heritage and archaeology worlds –  focussed on thinking about the past as it might illuminate the future in ecological terms.

A great key-note address by Anna-Sophie Springer about re-contextualising futures of ‘natural history’, a video exhibition by Gair Dunlop on the nuclear industry, discussion of a walk through an archaeological landscape, a visit to Dounreay,  lots of discussion and sharing of practice. The over-riding thing I came away with was the interdisciplinary of contemporary practice and the many creative ways in which artists are by-passing galleries and engaging in conversations in other places and other contexts. Very much where I see my own work going as I continue to work locally on the Wylfa site.

Hinkley Point, the story so far


Click on the link above for an overview of the Hinkley Point story.

In the meantime in Anglesey Horizon have applied for planning permission to remove all hedges, walls and natural features from a massive area just so as to be ready to build a new NPS should they get the go-ahead. Of course they are recording everything and plan to rebuild and replant every missing item should they be unsuccessful in their project. I am trying to get hold of their records – an item by item drawing of everything down to the last hedgerow plant and stone should be quite interesting.

Drawing on the Land :Archaeology at Wylfa


Wylfa is currently the site of one of the largest archaeological digs in Europe, as a statutory requirement of the proposed new power station development. Volunteers are here digging a section of a neolithic henge, a massive circular ditch around the crest of a hill.DSC_0173Each ‘event’ on the site has to be accurately recorded by meticulous measured drawings. Here, below, artist and fellow volunteer Trish Bould has prepared the site for detailed recording of a round house just outside the circular henge. This has been identified after first of all a geo-physical survey, secondly, a visual identification of slight variations of colour in the soil, ringed in spray paint, and then many days of patient scraping away at stake-holes to reveal the individual stake holes in their circular form. The process of digging is like sculpture in reverse while the process of revealing and recording is like drawing on the land.DSC_0165DSC_0134DSC_0164Even the little measured recording drawings of each stake-hole have their own fascination as we enter into the discipline of another kind of drawing process.double stake holes


20170915_092745On my way up to Allenheads Contemporary Arts to meet up with X-10,  I swung by Sellafield in West Cumbria. Astonishingly large site but quite hard to get up close to take it all in. It really is a small city of its own and one with the now familiar nuclear culture – no photos of course except from the publicly accessible views like this one. Here is where the fuel rods from Wylfa will end up once they have been extracted from the power station as part of the decommissioning process.

Kate Williams, Dounreay

Dounreay. Kate Williams

Kate williams model of Dounreay, made of uranium glass, was know to me already from online images when we started our project. Nice to see two versions of it recently, one in Thurso museum and one in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Spooky?