Adventures with RCAHMW – 6


It is not just what an archive is for that interests me.  Strong verticals have always been involved in my work, and although looking at the form of an archive it seems limited, I have found that I am drawn to the pronounced interplay of the vertical with the horizontal.


Perhaps it reminds me of Mondrian?

piet-mondrian-ohne-titel-(3-works)Ohne Titel, colour lithograph on cardboard, 23″x23″ – Piet Mondrian

So when I visited the archives in the Royal Commission in 2016, I should not have been surprised that I made work from that one visit for nearly eight months.


Yet I did not think of it in terms of colour, as Mondrian did, but in terms of black and white.  This involved working with black on white paper, then with white on black paper.

A1b 2R

From Archive 1b series, chalk on card, A4 – Carmen Mills

I was surprised at the difference it made, reversing the black and the white.

A1b 1R

From Archive 1b series, chalk on card, A4 – Carmen Mills

Instead of looking at a drawing, I felt that I was looking at an old photograph, and perhaps this was taken of the surface of the moon where strange markings had been found, but kept secret.

A 1b 3R

From Archive 1b series, chalk on card, A4 – Carmen Mills

It produced in me the same mixture of amazement and scepticism that I discovered when I first came across the Nazca lines in South America.  The Nazca Lines /ˈnæzkɑː/ (to quote from Wikipedia) are a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. The largest figures are up to 370 m (1,200 ft) long. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Image result for nazca lines

Did ancient people really make these forms in the landscape, at a scale that they couldn’t possibly have appreciated from the ground?  Or did aliens descend in the night and draw from the air?  And if so, why have we not heard more about it??  As you can see, I’m all for a good conspiracy theory!

A 1b 4R

From Archive 1b series, chalk on card, A4 – Carmen Mills

So maybe these are photographs and not drawings after all, images taken of what happens in an archive when the imagination is left free to roam.  Only this is something that is usually kept secret . . .







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