Buried ‘Treasure’

My ‘treasures’ are found objects and were mostly found by the seashore or river’s edge in Suffolk. I love collecting things that catch my eye and have connection to a place I know or have visited. On a holiday in Ghana, a few years ago, I collected a wonderful hoard of sea glass and in the garden at my last house I would regularly find bits of blue and white pottery whilst digging, it was so exciting. A recent house move to North East Essex, near the river Stour, has opened up new areas to explore and ‘treasures’ to find. One very special place taking my attention is a piece of land that will be my future home. I have collected some ‘treasures’ that I have found, small pieces of pottery, metal, bark from the silver birch trees and leaves from the old oaks. I also like discovering man-made items that give clues to the past and the history of the land.

In February I buried several different pieces of fabric on the parcel of land. Five months later I could only find one piece of canvas that was quite eaten away, I assume the thinner ones completely disintegrated. It was an experiment I have not tried before, and I was trying to be really patient by leaving it so long (and the nettles growing put me off!) but it was a disappointment. Yesterday I have buried some more, from thin silk to cotton canvas, some printed and some plain, I shall not leave it so long before checking this time.

I am in the experimental part of my research for the next body of work with EAST and, for me, it’s trying things out, going in different directions but not knowing exactly where I am going at this stage. This week I have been focussing on some of the varied colours on the land which naturally changes as the seasons change. There are some heavy pieces of metal with wonderful rusty bolts and nuts (we heard they might be parts of old railway carriages, how exciting!) and I have wrapped wet fabric around these for some rust imprints.

I have pressed some of the leaves and wild plants and am going to try preserving some plants.

Pressed oak leaves and sycamore seedlings

Connecting with the land I will be experimenting with using some of the heavy clay soil as a medium, make rubbings on surfaces such as trees and bricks (from an old Nissen hut ) and printing with some of the ‘treasure’ I have collected. Over the years things have been dumped on the ground, rubbish, but I am interested in ‘discovering’ these and thinking about where they might have come from. Once these chosen objects are taken away from where they were found and seen as single objects, they take on a different value. I have selected items and grouped similar or same materials together in a formal manner, like specimens, giving a museum-like quality.

I would like to use resources and materials from the land itself as much as possible in my work, capturing a sense of place and evoking a feel for the home that is to be created on this ground. In the process of my investigations, I am making a physical connection with the land, I’m feeling the seasons, experiencing the light as it changes and witnessing the contrasting sounds of the birds with the everyday manmade noises.

For me the space is a place of contrast which I love; railway/ river, trees/ metal, natural manmade, manmade, natural. As I see the ever-changing tides it reminds me how things are constantly changing and evolving, much like my experimentation and plans for a new home.

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