Today I’m recovering from the fact that my plans for my part in the degree show have been accepted.
I spent quite a few hours over the Easter break working on the text of my appropriated Norse myth, which I’ve called ‘Balder and the Ice Stars’, and working with a music producer to make a sound track, which would not only go with the ‘wall painting’, ‘Myth’ (6′ x 15′) , but which would pull together the other pieces I intend to show along with ‘Myth’. Yesterday I had to let a tutor know what I had been working on, and I was very nervous about it, thinking that the whole idea of a sound track might not go down too well. However there were no negative remarks, so I’m going ahead with some relief as well as a growing sense of excitement.
So why put a sound track to a painting? I’m sure it must have been done, but I haven’t ever actually experienced it before. I’m excited about the use of the sound track because along with the rolling text of ‘Balder and the Ice Stars’ which it accompanies, it provides the third essential layer in what is an active layering of time. Let me explain. The rolling text is set over a photograph I took when I went to visit the archaeological dig at Star Carr (see below). It shows a trench with it’s contents and the field beyond. Quite ordinary, until you realise that the contents of the trench reveal material that has been dated at 11,000 years old, and that the field was in fact a large lake a few thousand years ago. The text rolling over the top is based on Viking stories, which would have come to this part of Britain in the early tenth century. The Vikings of course founded the town of Scarborough, just a few miles to the east, and would have been in the Star Carr area. The original techno music going with it is absolutely twenty first century. I find the amalgamation, or overlaying, of those three time areas exhilarating.
The ‘wall painting’ itself, which is the primary work to which the text and the sound track point, is built up with these three time elements as part of the composition: the first layer of work includes a drawing of what is now thought to be the boundaries of the lake, known as Lake Flixton, on the shores of which stood the Mesolithic summer (probably) camp of Star Carr. The map for the exact figuration of the Lake is still being worked on by an archaeologist from Manchester. I remember standing beside the dig with him in the sunshine, staring at the landscape all around me as I listened to what he had discovered, imagining the water, the reed beds, the islands, the bark canoes those ancient people might have used, the antler tips that had been fashioned into tools for fishing, the beavers . . . Yes, there is evidence of beavers on the site, and aurochs too, but I’m getting distracted. To go back to the ‘wall painting’, it includes references to the Balder myth, including the runes that make up his name, and yet it is non-representational, abstract, and therefore very modern.
Now the challenge is to set it all up so that it works, and communicates this sense of excitement about the archaeological layering of time to unsuspecting viewers. I’m planning to paint my gallery walls black, rather than white, and . . . But then, perhaps you’d better come along and see for yourself on 27 May.
This is what will be projected next to the painting. Can you see three time layers here?