YAARP – Looking at the Archaeological Landscape Differently

DSC_0069The latest video results are now in from the Yesnaby Art & Archaeology Project team who were working in the field during the summer.

The team led by University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute archaeologist Dr James Moore and visual artist Rik Hammond use the shared language of the disciplines of art and archaeology to explore the landscape of Western Orkney through a different lens. The research project aims to use both disciplines as tools to understand the continuously changing physical environment and people’s perceptions of a specific area on the island.

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James continues, “Everyone perceives a landscape differently, depending on your own experiences, background and so on. An archaeologist would read a location differently to someone who has say trained in geography. A person brought up in an urban environment will see something different to someone who grew up in a rural setting, or on an island. Using GPS, video and a variety of other arts-based techniques we can create maps of activity, and diverse images of the landscape, which consider the ways in which members of the team experience different aspects of the environment, and provides a way of challenging our own perceptions of the landscape. By combining these ideas with our understanding of the locations and distribution of archaeological material obtained through our more traditional survey work we can hopefully begin to think about the ways in which people in the past might have understood and experienced the landscape in which they lived.”

One feature of the project involved placing a camera on the slope overlooking the valley and, using timelapse techniques, create a video to explore the landscape over a period of nine weeks….through sunshine and rain, night and day. The result not only tracks the changing environment of Yesnaby over a defined time period, but in many respects forces us to look at the archaeological landscape in a different way.

This is the third year of YAARP and this year the team have focused on creating unique digital and traditional artwork in the field based on the natural and cultural landscape. The team are looking forward to presenting a taste of the results by staging an exhibition in Orkney during spring 2018. There will be more from the team soon.

Follow YAARP social mediaFacebook @YesnabyArtArchaeologyResearchProject and Twitter @YAARP_Orkney and Rik Hammond @rik_hammond

Thanks to Orkney Islands Council Culture Fund for supporting the project.

YAARP takes to the field

DSC_0030To many people across the country, YAARP is associated with a certain police film set in a model village in the West Country (filmed in Wells actually), but to archaeologists and artists in Orkney, the initials can only mean one thing….Yesnaby Art and Archaeology Research Project.

The ten day YAARP fieldwork starts on 31st July and brings together staff and students from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, volunteers and artists with the aim of creating a unique view of the important archaeological landscape of Yesnaby, West Mainland, Orkney.

The team led by University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute archaeologist Dr James Moore and visual artist Rik Hammond uses geophysics, drone photography and 3D modelling techniques, alongside a variety of arts based practices to record the ever changing landscape of Yesnaby.

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This is the third year of YAARP and this year the team will be focusing on creating unique digital and traditional artwork in the field based on the natural and cultural landscape. One exciting idea involves the creation of 3D models of elements of the landscape and reproducing them in physical form using 3D printing.

Dr James Moore says, “ We have developed an almost bewildering number of ways of studying, experiencing and presenting this important landscape. I think the whole team are looking forward to what new ideas, data and possibilities come from this phase of work, as well as the somewhat controversial ‘biscuit league’ being expanded to include a whole range of cakes and other treats. The project builds on many years of research, both as individuals and as a team, and we are looking forward to presenting a taste of the results by staging an exhibition in Orkney during spring 2018.”

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Follow YAARP social mediaFacebook @YesnabyArtArchaeologyResearchProject and Twitter @YAARP_Orkney and Rik Hammond @rikhammond.artist


Thanks to Orkney Islands Council Culture Fund for supporting the project.

The Artist and the Archaeologist

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The wild landscape of Orkney lends itself well to collaboration. When the winds whistle across the sea, you soon find out that working with your neighbour is a good way to conduct your life.

In fact, collaboration seems to come naturally in such an environment. And so in this vein Dr James Moore, an archaeologist working at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, and Rik Hammond a visual artist resident in Orkney, came together to devise an innovative programme combining art and archaeology.

The Yesnaby Art and Archaeology Research Project (YAARP) was thus created…melding together the principles of both archaeology and art in order to bring the archaeological landscape of Orkney to life.

The project is in its second year and aims to explore the development of the archaeological landscape of Yesnaby and to consider the ways in which the environment can be interpreted and represented using a range of methods…from the traditional to the experimental. The main area of study this year centres on the area around East Bigging in Yesnaby, West Mainland, Orkney and runs from 18th July to 29th July.

This area of Orkney is particularly interesting in terms of landscape archaeology as there is evidence of human activity from the Bronze Age all the way through to the Second World War. This project will investigate, through the use of gephysics, field walking and test pitting, the evolving landscape of Yesnaby.

Each day during field work the team are presented with one of a series of ‘Provocations and Interventions’ to undertake collectively. One of these creative challenges involved a member of the project team gathering GPS data while they worked on an archaeology project during the day. Each track was shown on a map and in effect the process of undertaking archaeology created art (see the photograph above).

James and Rik take up the story by outlining their first day…..”Seven members of the fieldwork team assembled on Day One at the UHI Archaeology Institute at Orkney College for the fieldwork briefing and equipment check, before heading out to the area around East Bigging/Pickabigging in Yesnaby – the main focus of our landscape survey this season. After parking up and introducing ourselves to the neighbours, team members donned wearable GPS receivers and opened our first ‘Provocations & Interventions’ envelope – a daily task/instruction unknown to the wider team, randomly chosen, which today suggested two team members focus on recording audio and video in the landscape. Sarah Jane chose the video camera and Holly the iPad, and spent the day recording.

We then walked the perimeter of our primary survey area – a couple of fields and an enclosure totalling roughly 8 hectares – orienting ourselves within the immediate landscape, in addition to going through a project health and safety checklist, before breaking for lunch. We shared a packet of biscuits for pudding – and began a daily biscuit scoring chart (expertly drawn out on our portable chalkboard by Holly). Today’s ‘Rainbow Cookies’ didn’t score as well as we first hoped, despite their promising packaging! Will tomorrow’s fare better?

After lunch James instructed the team in the setup of the Trimble GPS (which is used to accurately map out a grid across the fields prior to geophysical survey) as the rain became heavier. We eventually abandoned the field a little early – as the rain was clearly not about to stop any time soon – and the team headed home to dry out and prepare for day 2.”

 

Check out www.yaarp.org.uk for more information on this innovative project.

Photograph by Rik Hammond http://www.rikhammond.com/


Supported by Orkney Islands Council’s Culture Fund.