My work is installation based and combines film, photography, drawing and found objects and I am interested in perceptions of the British landscape, local history and wildlife. I am currently involved in an artist-led, community-based residency with the archaeological department at Newport Museum and Art Gallery in South Wales. The project is funded by Cywaith Cymru/Artworks Wales (the national organisation for public art in Wales) as part of their 'Good-Ideas' residency programme.
My proposal for the residency began as a response to Newport Museums 2004 exhibition Trench Fever. The exhibition displayed various archaeological tools, notebooks, correspondence, maps and photographs from the museums Caerwent archive. Caerwent is a small village east of Newport, which was once a thriving Roman settlement. In the 1900s archaeologists and local diggers excavated the site and conducted extensive research. Much of the city wall remains and several excavated foundations lie exposed to this day.
My residency is primarily concerned with the archive collection of hand-written notes produced during this period of excavation. I was granted access to read and photograph the notebooks and found that physically handling the notebooks, carefully turning the pages and inspecting the notes and pencil diagrams was very important in understanding the activities of the archaeologists and diggers. I found the notebooks as historically significant as any Roman artefact.
Caerwent Notebooks from Newport Museum
I intend to document the notebooks on film and produce several Super 8 film loops depicting the contents of the notebooks layered with footage of Caerwents historical landscape, creating a series of short montages. With permission, the films will be screened on the windows of various sites in the village including the church, pub, post office and school. The films and documentation of the village screenings will also be presented in the museum. A DVD of the work produced during the project will be made available free of charge to the Caerwent residents.
I hope my residency will provide further interpretation of the museums archive and the rarely exhibited Caerwent archive and strengthen the links between the museum and the local community. Many residents argue that Caerwent should be provided with an on-site museum to house the archive and archeological collection. I hope the residency will provoke further discussion and encourage the villagers to actively pursue the establishment of a local museum.
Next diary entry: 20th January 2006
11th February 2006
30th March 2006
10th April 2006
Questions and answers about the project
The Final Work (video clip)
'Rough Notes', 2006
More information on Rebecca Spooner
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Roman Wall, Caerwent