Wednesday, 12 November 2008

More images of work on and around Simonside

Below are a few of the images resulting from a weekend spent at Lordenshaws and on the Simonside Hills near Rothbury. The weather was pretty bad at times and I wasn't sure if we (myself and my glamorous assistant Mair Hughes) were going to make it up Simonside, it felt like my Solstice experience all over again!

However, the clouds moved on enough to make us think it was safe to go up. We had worked out a carrying method for the replica rock I had commissioned from Robin Burch (Spice Design) and amid much hilarity we set off up Simonside.

Once again what was interesting about being on this site was the interaction with fellow walkers. Of course I was attracting a bit of attention with a giant rock strapped to my back. Mair was surprised at the people who just walked by without a second glance, but I was most surprised by the people who asked "Is it real?"

I feel like there is much more to come out of this work, I would like to work with geo-cachers in order to place the rock in a variety of sites around the park. There are more places around Simonside I would like to take it to as well, I think it needs to spend some time with the solstice rock. I would also like to get back in touch with Chris Jones ( NNP archaeologist) and record a discussion about the archaeological implications of the work.

However, for now I am just interested to see what all the Triparks work looks like together. We will all meet on the 15th November in Dulverton, Sommerset for a preview exhibition.

every cloud has it's silver lining

on Lordenshaws

infiltrating Lordenshaws

spot the rock

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Management of Change

Work is coming together, after a period of anxious waiting the various components that I commissioned for Triparks were completed and collected.

Below is an image I intend to use in the exhibition. It would not have been possible for me to create this image without the help of my trusty "assistant for the weekend": Mair Hughes. She accompanied me up Simonside and endured the wind, rain and endless curiosity of fellow walkers with me, for all that I am truly grateful.

Photograph by Mair Hughes, rock by Robin Burch, absurd idea; all my own!

Wanderer above the mists of time

Monday, 21 July 2008


The last month has been spent researching possible locations for filming and consolidating my ideas for the work in preparation for the group meeting this month on Dartmoor. I have spent two long weekends walking in the park, one around Simonside and one around the College Valley. The second of which gave me a taste of how wild the weather can get in the park. The wind at the summit of Auchope Cairn was quite intimidating and when the mist began to descend I though it was probably time to head back to lower ground.

Below is and extract from my mid project report for Aune Head Arts which details my proposed ideas at this stage.

"I came to the project with a deliberate open mind to the outcomes, determined to let my time in the park shape the work. My own concerns with the biological and psychological body would obviously impact upon the outcomes in some way. Following 3 days of preliminary introductions and tours of the parks landscape by the rangers and park officials I was immediately drawn to the recently initiated Border Heritage Project. Revolving around work with remote communities on both sides of the English / Scottish border, the projects aim is to create a cultural map based on shared memories, history, folklore and cultural identity of the place. Unfortunately, this project is in it very early planning stages, gathering and processing information, making involvement quite difficult within the timescale of Triparks. However, I am very interested in continuing an involvement with the project and hope to have the opportunity to do this.

I also began walking with Bridget in the park - we talked a lot about our practices, our ideas and the preliminary meetings we had both been involved in. Some of the most interesting things that came from these conversations for me involved the contradictions that exist within the park, ideas of wilderness and control, timelessness and change. I was also fascinated with the fact that we walked for almost 6 hours and only saw 2 people, re-emphasising what we had already learned about certain areas of the park being amongst the most remote in England. The feelings of space and isolation walking in the park were amazing; I decided that I wanted to immerse myself in this isolation as a central part of the process. I consulted with the park staff to find some of the most remote areas and have spent a further 9 days in the park walking, being with the landscape. Through this process the work has developed and I am now at the early stages of coordinating the production.

My ideas have developed into 2 proposed outcomes: a video work and a series of digitally manipulated images. Both works deal with the idea of wilderness/control, how the body (or man) and landscape relate to one another and how this relationship could be viewed as an attempt to rationalise, interfere or create structure. Both works will approach this by re-examining and manipulating direct recordings of the park’s landscape.

The video work has developed with additional support from a series of mentoring sessions provided by DigitalCity in Middlesbrough. I have negotiated with DigitalCity to produce the piece for Triparks with the provided mentor Ian Bailey. I have also arranged to use their HD camera equipment through the month of August to shoot the work in the park. The video will incorporate cyclic footage of human gamete, cell division and necrosis integrated into a repeating 360° panoramic shot constructed from various uninterrupted views of the landscape edited together. The human biological elements will be manipulated and integrated into the film in the editing process to reproduce effects such as video interference and damaged film, juxtaposing the clarity of the HD landscape footage. I hope to be able to gather some of the cellular source materials myself and am attempting to negotiate some time in a lab or research environment over the next few months. If this is not possible I will use licensed stock footage. The work will be displayed for tour using a HD plasma/LCD flat screen and Mini Mac. The screen will be housed in a purpose-constructed frame.

The image work will consist of a series of three - five images of the landscape that will undergo a series of manipulations before presentation as large format framed prints to tour. I met with park commissioned photographer Simon Fraser to discuss potential sites for filming and shooting and established a list of sites to visit in the remaining days of the residency. I have been researching digital processes that can be used to replicate natural forms and create fictional, man-made landscapes in virtual worlds. One process I found which is very interesting uses fractals to create virtual landscapes that mimic nature to an incredibly detailed level. I aim to use this process to create a new structure that will be overlaid onto the actual images. I aim to construct these fractal structures using manipulated images of bones excavated in the park and am currently trying to organize some time with park archaeologists."

I have since had a meeting with Andrew Miller, the national park northern area manager and following this have arranged to meet with Chris Jones, the park archaeologist to discuss gathering the images of the human material from the park.

Locations for filming (College Valley and Auchope Cairn)

Locations for filming (Simonside)

Sunday, 20 July 2008



personal stories


bottom slab size

black granite in grass

white marble with lead

handcut with black

two inch letters

Much later on, in July

After my weekend in Rothbury I had quite a long time away from the park, I made a trip to Iceland and persued Robin for a quote to make me a rock about 60 x 60 x 60cm.

As always things change, ideas modify and practical issues like money and time necesitate compromise.

I've been thinking long and hard about the replica rock idea and would still like it to be an element of this project, but I also have another set of ideas that I feel may take priority.

I have been coming back to two phrases about the landscape that I encountered in the early stages of this project:


They refer to different types of ecology and I encountered them in reference to the two seperate areas of the park North and South.

I have been in contact with a memorial stonemason from Rothbury (John Clark) about commissioning him to make two stones with these phrases carved into them, one black granite one white marble.

I met him on Saturday morning in the cemetry nr Rothbury. He is a very gentle man, perfect considering the delicate nature of his work. He showed me various examples of stones and we discussed different techniques. He works with a man who hand cuts letters (sandblasting is the other option), I really want to work with this letter cutter, John said hand cutting is a dying art and I'd like to take the opportunity before its too late.

Some how this issue of preservation and restriction keeps coming up. Aparently white marble and black granite is not allowed in churchyards any more, only "natural" "old" looking stone, more planning and control of the aesthetics of place.

John left me with a catalogue of memorial stones, it makes interesting reading....

Meeting with Chris Jones

Next day, Monday I met up with Chris Jones, archaelogist with the Northumberland National Park. We had a really interesting conversation in the car park before setting out onto the Lordenshaws site, the area at the foot of Simonside with the cup and ring marked rocks.

Chris had been a Garlands Edge in the Peak district where they had been examining an impressive example of rock marking before burying the original and putting a fibre glass replica in it's stead.

Had this man been reading my note book I thought, I was getting really excited. He was excited too, it transpired that this was his first visit to the site so we were going to do some exploring together.

Chris talked about each generation of people having a different way of seeing the landscape, that each time period brings with it a different psyche. It was refreshing to hear someone speak so openly about their field. He told me some funy stories about a fight between two archaelogists at conference over "processualism", apparently an insult in some circles.

We followed ditches and walls and Chris revealed the story of the site and its re use over time. There are quite a number of marked rocks around the site but they are not that easy to find and the markings are "tenuous".

Chris talked about the Park policy of "managing change" and not "preserving in aspic", he was enthusiastic about my idea of working with the rock markings, when I asked him what would be the newest thing to be considered archaelogically interesting. His answer was that "archaelogy starts yesterday". I started thinking about working with an archaelogist to interpret my work.

Chris gave me a list of suggested reading, some of which I've been able to find.

He left me with the impression that he would be back at that site sometime soon, he was very interested at the prospect of excavating a triangulated cairn.

view from the rock

potential rock candidate

potential rock

Church Rock

Potential site and Church Rock

I re joined the official path an continued my ascent. The wind was so strong that I have to admit I was really just concentrating on keeping upright most of the time. My main mission was meant to be finding potential rock candidates for robin to use as models for our replica. I kooked at a couple of sites and identified one potential candidate and site. While I was contemplating the site a fellow walker joined me, he told me a good way through the woods via Church Rock in the woodland. I had a really pleasant, sheltered walk through the woods and found the rock easily.

The Newcastle Hotel was a little quieter on Sunday night and I had time to think about what I might like to inscribe on the replica rock. I am interested in using some of the icons from my digital camera display screen a reference to how most people enjoy the view nowdays: through their technology.

the whole through it

solstice rock

The solstice rock, only a day late

I found the solstice rock quite easily when I returned to Simonside on the Sunday morning. Mark, one of the park rangers had given me an idea where it was the day before and he also showed me some pictures of it from a website which explained how this rock lines up with a series of other significant rocks in the region. I'm not too interested in all that stuff but I was on a mission to find this rock.

I enjoyed lounging around on the rock in the sunshine, looking up at the clouds rushing by overhead I regretted not bringing my DVD camera, but I'd opted for a lighter load to go up the hill with.

I got a certain amount of satisfaction in being at the rock site exactly twelve hours after the solstice sun set, better late than never....

The craggs again

Room with a View

The morning after...

Sleep came, eventually, I hesitated to look out of the window the next morning for fear of more rain. Luckily the air was clear and patches of blue sky teased from a distance. Though my night's sleep had been less than perfect the view from my window of Simonside was some sort of compensation. I took photos from the window and decided to give the Newcastle Hotel the benefit of the doubt, it being Saturday night and solstice and all.

zooming in on Dove Craggs on Simonside

Simon side from a distance

Garleigh Hill, trigpoint and cairn

Sundews, a carnivorous plant, like venus flytrap.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Longest day, even longer night...

Got really wet walking from Rothbury to Simon side and back. Took an umberella and was really glad of it.

Met a really nice couple out walking their three terriers, one staffie and one siamese cat...

Went to the forestry commission carl park and decided not to go all the way up along the ridge but to walk along the road to Lordenshaws car park. It was really looking dodgy up on the tops and I didn't want to take any unnecessary risks, especially on my own.

I came across one jogger and three cyclists on my way to the car park, wished them happy solstice , think they thought I was a bit strange.

It looked really bad weatherwise but I headed up the path.... however common sense prevailed and I turned back. There was no way I was going to find the solstice rock in those conditions and there certainly wasn't a peak of sunshine to shine through it anyway.

I slopped my way back to Rothbury on quite a pleasant route past some interesting little wooden chalets and was very glad to get back to my wee room and take off my soggy gear. I was absolutely knackered and took a hot bath in the 'interesting' bathroom.

Meanwhile things were really hotting up downstairs in the bar, the music got louder and louder and LOUDER, sceeching and catterwalling masses slammed in and out of the front door which my room was oh so conveiniently positioned above.

Around mid night I was begining to seriously regret my choice of accomodation, I locked my door and tried to read my book.

In my mind scenes from Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights were being re enacted below my bed chamber, finally at two AM peace descended upon the Newcastle Hotel.....

Soggy Solstice continued

OK, I digressed into the world of fake rock for a moment there....

Back to Simonside at Solstice time.

I kept a journal of the three days I was in and around Rothbury so I will use extracts of that to create this posting.

"twenty first June tweleve thirty ish

The Longest Day:
Up to Simonside again got here about ten thirty decided to go straight to Hills and take a look around Garleigh Moor which is to the side of where the cup and ring marks are but has a trig point and a cairn on Garleigh Hill.

Garleigh Craggs are most imposing and I come back to the thoughts I keep having about Picnic at Hanging Rock. Whilst driving here I took some photos of Simoneside froma distance and thought about "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where the guy gets obsessed with the shape of the hill. Because I want to capture my first sighting of it , the characteristic shape, I become quite a dangerous driver.......

I stopped near the turning to Fontburn reservoir this time and took a couple of shots with the SLR and tripod. Feels quite cumbersome carrying all this gear around with me, hope its worth it..

Car park is filling up with walkers and cyclists, but on one has chosen to explore the area I'm in, yet.

Took photos of trig point and cairn up on Garleigh Hill. Think there really is something to the fact that these two markers co exist in the landscape.

Walked along the top of hill towards Rothbury then down the fence line towards the hillfort, was stumbling about quite alot and very fortunately stumbled upon a patch of sundews, see photo.

Walked back up around the hillfort ....then the heavens opened.......

Whilst walking back to the carpark I came across a group of "hippies", joined them at the cup and ring marked rock and took their photo for them. Turned out they were from Newcastle and some of htem worked for Tyne and Wear museums. One girl, Naomi had previously worked at Killhope.... small world... "fake hippies" .... "fake rocks".....

Checked into my B + B, The Newcastle Hotel, then checked out Rothbury for a late lunch, still raining, but my husband sent me a message about a rock with a whole through it which is meant to line up with the solstice sun set. Will try to find out from rangers about this.

Robin Burch stone one

Robbin Burch stone two

Robin Burch: stone three

Soggy Solstice

It's been a while since I had the following encounters, for one reason or another I just haven't had time to put all this up on the blog before now.

Since my last blog entry I decided that I wanted to go back up to the site I"ve being thinking about most during this project, Simonside Hills nr Rothbury, for the weekend of the longest day, Summer Solstice in fact.

I booked myself into a pub B+B in Rothbury for Saturday and Sunday night and arranged to meet with Chris Jones NNP archaeologist on the Monday morning.

My main reason for going was to hunt out some suitable rocks to photograph and measure. Since being informed that carving onto the rocks up on Simonside is not permitted I have been thinking about the interpretation and representation of history or heritage alot. This also ties in with my current day job, which is information assistant at Killhope Lead Mining Centre. One of my tasks in this job is to guide people down part of the lead mine, it takes about an hour and is as you might expect, dark and wet. However one of the most surprising things I discovered when training for the job is that a large part of the tour takes place in a completely fake or replica mine. Due to health and safety and other visitor comfort considerations the centre built a big concrete box underground and connected to the real mine level. Inside the box they employed specialists to recreate features from various lead mines in fibre glass, which we walk through whilst telling people various tales of old.

This has obviously been on my mind. I point out the fakeness of the mine to all visitors, by the way, it doesn't seem to detract from their experience. It sort of bothers me and at the same time I love the idea of being inside this giant sculpture or Dr Who set.

Any how the reason for this little story is I started to think if I can't have a real rock maybe I'll have a fake one. I am currently in contact with one if the guys who worked on the Killhope mine, hence rock hunting, he needs plenty of photos in order to do a good job, and he is good. Check out his work is the three rocks above this posting Robin Burch rocks one, two and three.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Deer Hut at Barrowburn

Windy Gyle

I had a meeting with Archaeologist Iain Hedley at the Rothbury National Park office recently to discuss some of the areas I am keen to explore. He has a personal interest in myth and folklore and I wanted to see how this might link in with my ideas and possibly with the Border Heritage Project. He gave me some new directions for research and also pointed me in the direction of Barrowburn farm up in the Coquet Valley, where the farmer had various accommodations available for hire. I had mentioned my interest in remoteness and he recommended visiting as it is located in one of the most isolated areas in the park, without electricity or mobile phone network coverage.

Several people had recommended a walk from Barrowburn up to Windy Gyle , so I decided to spend a long weekend in the deer hut up at Barrowburn and do the walk. It was pretty tough, with lots of ups and downs but the views were spectacular. I was particularly looking out for potential sites to shoot footage for the video work I am planning. Locations where I could get 360 degree uninterrupted views of the horizon, where the hills meet the sky. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy, Ian the farmer told me that on a clear day you could see as far as the sea .

The walk took in another small section of the Pennine Way, following the border between between Scotland and England. It was interesting to see the difference between the landscape on either side of the fence.