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Re-Making the Past


We are always up for a challenge, and new ways of interpreting archaeology in the community. One of our recent projects has brought together archaeological expertise and artistic endeavour. Lorraine Mepham has been collaborating with established artist Syann van Niftrik and Dorset potter Jonathan Garratt. Jonathan is one of the last potters in Europe to fire pots made of hand-dug clay in a wood-fired kiln; he built his own kiln at Hare Lane in Dorset in 1986, and recently moved to Shaftesbury. 
Syann is primarily an experimental jeweller, but said that “the idea and shape of this project came from my own thoughts on the changing meaning of objects in time. The plan was to have a potter make a vessel and while doing so, tell me what is going on in his mind. And then have an archaeologist talk about the thoughts that come up while piecing together sherds in order to ascertain what they were a part of. I thought it might be interesting to see what connections there may be in the two processes.
The project featured a pot made by Jonathan, which was deliberately broken, and then reassembled by Lorraine. Syann inscribed some of Jonathan’s comments on making the pot on the inside surface before it was fired, and wrote some of Lorraine’s thoughts on the outside after it had been reassembled. The whole process has been documented by film-maker Zan Barberton
Both pot and film feature in the exhibition ‘Re-Making the Past’, along with other artists who have been inspired by the ancient past. The exhibition runs at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey until 10 May 2015, touring to the Craft Study Centre at Farnham from 9 - 18 July 2015.
By Lorraine Mepham, Senior Post-excavation Manager


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