Thursday, August 17, 2017

Art at SSW 1 - Object & Age

'When does Old Junk - become Archaeology?'

Regular Readers will know that  I am often commenting on the Object within a Material Culture, especially within a Historic framework.

The grouping in the image above was used to illustrate the point on our 'working table' over the current Artist Residency at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

The upper group of five objects was gathered on a field walk through farm land to the east of SSW at Lumsden (from  left to right) :
- A broken piece of roofing slate
(Age unknown, as slate roofs have been built in scotland from at least from Historic (if not to Ancient) times through to modern construction.)
-  An iron (?) wagon or farm machine hitch fitting, with a much decayed block of wood still attached
(Use of a hex head bolt suggests post 1860. The nails are 'semi wire' type, with cylindrical bodies but flat and tapered 'cut' points, again suggesting post about 1860 to about 1880.)
- Unknown material as waste
(Has the appearance of a brown glazed ceramic, but is much to light weight to be composed of clay. Top side is smooth and semi polished looking, underside course texture with embedded sand grains. Too hard for a wax, may be some kind of resin?)
- Fragment of glazed ceramic
(A course grained light grey clay body topped with a white glaze, decorated with light blue lines. )
- Broken piece of ceramic pipe
(A very rough textured clay with simple mottled brown glaze on the surface, a section of a cylinder. Other pieces were found - including a full S bend fitting that would suit installing a toilet. Suggests Victorian / +1880 manufacture.)
This group was found in a steeply sloped corner of a recently plowed field. To my eye this looks like an area only recently turned to cultivation. Perhaps once the 'corner dump' area for the current farm. Could also be the plowed over remnants of a much older farm cottage?

The lower group of three were gathered while breaking up scrap cast iron (left to right) :
- Ring of lead seal
- Joint section of cast iron pipe, showing many paint layers on the exterior
- Lengths of what appears to be hemp (?) fibre cording / packing

Although other than the mystery material, the rough dating for the found objects would appear to place them to some point between 1860 - 1880.
In Scotland, all are clearly nothing more than 'old trash'.
In Canada, objects of that age are often placed in museums.

How old, how removed from current popular culture, must an object be before it is considered 'History'?
How far past before it's recovery becomes Archaeology?

Stone Foundations - East of Lumsden / SSW (view uphill towards South)
 Further up that same hill, just about 500 m to the East of SSW (to the north end of Lumsden) we came across a group of what certainly appeared to be three square stone outlines with interior depressions. It was hard not to see these features as the foundation lines for three small, linked structures. The interior sizes were about 4 x 4 meters.
Stone Foundation - North end of group - Kelly for scale
I took most note of the most northerly positioned of the group. Two large stones were inside, the larger laying flat and about 1.5 + metres long. The second was set upright, with the roughly flat surface set at what I would have found comfortable 'striking height'. There was a clear gap in the line   of outlining stones in the SE corner - suggesting an entrance (?)

I certainly found these features to be worthy of 'Archaeology'.


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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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