Did you meet her? (d’m’t-er)

Did you meet her

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Did you meet her? (d’m’t-er) is a selective installation from an ongoing body of work, the impulse for which emerged in a search for the Mother Goddess in Valetta, Malta in 2017.  The work draws on my own dreams and archetypal encounters, the pre-patriarchal myth of the triple goddess, Demeter, and the psychological concept of a world-soul.

Nau Arts (11-18 May 2018)
unit 2 Crooks Industrial Estate, Cheltenham

from ‘Buddo’ to Brodgar: experiencing neolithic Orkney

from Buddo to Brodgar: experiencing neolithic Orkney in its own terms – in the transition from linguistic-mythic to material-symbolic culture

“Taking my cue from the ‘Buddo’ assignment, I approached Orkney from a position of un-knowing, purposefully holding back from research.  I read just enough to satisfy the logistics of travel.  It was no surprise to find that I was at the centre of  my Brodgar experience, but I was surprised by the bodily nature of my experience.  In the ‘Buddo’ assignment my connections had been linguistically based – in books, held within stories told.  At Brodgar, the physical experience of the site seemed to draw all its resonances directly from my body-mind, the memory of my hands forming a basket, my hands reconstructing a pot”

1. the centre: the point of origin, of making, holding the stones together


“I connect opposites: two stones to the north, three to the south, two to the east, one to the west.  With this basic structure (like starting a basket) I can complete the circle and hold it in my minds eye.”

2. fragments: piecing together the remains of the circle, to take away, relationships intact


Photo 24-04-2017

“I photograph two or three stones at a time, from the centre, in rotation, making sure to include the last stone from each group in the next shot so that they can later be pieced together (like fragments of a pot)”

3. embodied: in circular procession, the stones materialising one by one, through bodily proximity, comparing scale and weight


“I follow the stones around, starting at the first upright and stopping at each one, seeing how far I, my eye, my camera lens, might travel around its circumference (weave between each upright).  We are all doing this, in procession.”


(refs. The transition from linguistic-mythic to material-symbolic culture is an adaption of Merlin Donal’s system of Cognitive phases by Colin Renfrew in Renfrew, Colin (2003) Figuring it out p113 London, Thames and Hudson)

extract from ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY: ASSIGNMENT 2   a presentation comprehending the role that visual culture plays in heritage understanding and interpretation


my minds i:mpulse

(re)searching ‘Buddo’ as ‘mother goddess’, Hoy Sound, Orkney (with Lucy Gresley)

“what form could there be that would better express the satisfaction of those needs [food, shelter, warmth, safety, children] than this small, carved, fecund female? Unless it were the form of a whole hilly landmass, built-up and carved and shaped into the pregnant body of a woman……so that by walking on the land, you walked on the torso of her divinity, you explored her breasts, her armpits, the space between her thighs, or ran the endless ripple and swell of her back for mile after mile”

(refs. Woodman, Marion (1993) Leaving my father’s house: a journey to conscious femininity; post title inspired by Janet Mullarney’s My minds i (2015) IMMA Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland)

Sedimentation: art, archaeology and subjective plurality

Untitled 2

Elaine Fisher and Lucy Gresley ‘Buddo’  (2017) part

what seemed appropriate (successful?) in a collaborative approach was that it was subjective, yes, but there was also a plurality to that subjectivity that wouldn’t quite let ‘Buddo’ settle.  Yes we brought ourselves to the process but we also left ourselves. Rather than finding common ground we encountered a kind of sediment, the settlement that occurs as thoughts and feelings aired gently find their own temporary resting place together.  A suspension of text over image allowed a view through, between and beyond.  The view could have been other and both elements could have been different. This was a muddy response to a muddy assignment.
The very nature of the collaborative process meant that we captured a moment in time, time spent (with the concept of ‘Buddo’) in relation.   In this way we encountered ‘Buddo’ as many different people have before us, at a particular point in the trajectory of our understanding of the world.  A temptation to edit, to tweak and improve our assignment response, was removed. Hindsight is not an option in this way of working and Hindsights would have retuned ‘Buddo’ to a new suspension, equally but differently uncertain.

a response to ART AND ARCHAEOLOGY: ASSIGNMENT 1   a visual essay, outlining and critically assessing the entanglement of visual culture, in the processes of collection, curation and display

displacement(derivation): art, archaeology and the question of language

Todays entanglement is a coincidental reading of Cochrane and Russell’s manifesto for a visual archaeology (on my Art and Archaeology module reading list) and George Yule’s ‘the study of language’ (an impulse purchase).

What makes language a uniquely human trait is our ability to refer to past and future time and other locations and to “communicate things and places whose existence we cannot even be sure of”, a trait known as displacement.  With this potential for the imaginary, why is it that theoretical concepts in archaeology are seen as being constrained by their linguistic context?  How has language become so problematic?
Cochrane and Russell describe the difference between archaeology as a natural science (a logical, process-driven, linear, temporal and evolutionary understanding of the world) and as a humanity (a poetic expression of humans grappling with modern philosophies, paradigms and epistemologies in a world which is rapidly changing but simultaneously constant).
Cochrane and Russell’s poetic archaeology is pitched towards accessible interpretation in an increasingly visual society yet their “archaeological expressionism” includes a whole range of language-rich contexts: imageries, societies, objects, events, articulations and fictions. It is not in an absence of language then but in an opening up of language, at its interface with image, that “accessible expressions of understandings of being in the world” are to be found.
Returning to George Yule, I am reminded of the possibilities afforded by word formations to an artistic enquiry intersecting with archaeology – an enquiry into the human impulse to constantly come to terms (to re-place ourselves) with(in) a forever changing world.
COINAGE the invention of totally new terms
BORROWING taking over words from other languages
COMPOUNDING a joining of two separate words
BLENDING taking the beginning of one word and joining it to the end of another
CLIPPING a word of more than one syllable reduced to a shorter form
BACKFORMATION reduction of a noun to form a verb
CONVERSION the movement from noun to verb without reduction
ACRONYM formed from the initial letters of a set of other words
DERIVATION (AFFIX) prefix (before), suffix (after), infix (in)
(Yule, George (1996) 2nd edn. The Study of Language Cambridge University Press
Cochrane A. & Russell, I. (2007) Visualizing Archaeologies: a manifesto Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17(1), 3-19)

meta-ar(t)chaeology: an embedded theory of place

Thinking about an ar(t)chaeological outcome that references its own ar(t)chaeology and what this might offer to an understanding of place and the human impulse towards place-making.
How might the “divergence in attitude” between “curious amateur” and “professional” impact on knowledge-making in such an entanglement of practice?  What constitutes a knowledge of place?  Whose knowledge is it?  Whose place is it?
What are the stopping places, the strata to which I have returned?
digging down – a chronological approach
What are the deposits that make up this new knowledge?
gathering method, matter and subject – a typological approach


“Entanglement teaches us to look away from whatever is the immediate object of study, to explore the networks of dependencies that constrain and drive the human condition.  It invites us to trace the threads that spread out from each action, entangling that action within wider socio-material realms”  Professor Ian Hodder (2016) Studies in human-thing entanglement


beneath(_) is a new collaboration with Lucy Gresley, involving (for the first time) an entanglement of our own artistic practices.  Using archaeology as our point of origin our working brief is to discover a lost society in clay whose slippery material presence and specialist investigation (the movement from object to subject) draws attention to ideas of truth, knowledge and fantasy inherent in our understanding of place.

The central premise of our enquiry is the degree to which we can expect others to trust forensic interpretations of the world when only those bestowed with specialist knowledge and training are in a position to pass judgement.  How real is an interpreted world perceived in the absence of understanding? to what extent do trusted realities continue to frame our existence? and what happens if we stop trusting?  A module in Archaeological Studies (MLitt) with the University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney will frame our project, its virtual (distance learning) and material (field trip) contexts appropriately shifting as we ask questions about how and where knowledge is constructed.