Archive | February, 2013

The Didcot Dog Mile

18 Feb

IMG_5359 Power station on the didcot dog mileThe Didcot Dog Mile

In May 2012 , as part of the ongoing EnglaID project, I came to set up an easel by the side of a popular footpath in Didcot and began to draw a working excavation, with the permission of Oxford Archaeology .The footpath is known locally as : the Didcot Dog Mile, now part of the Great Western Park development .

Didcot painting 2jpg

During the three months that followed ,working on the same drawing ,  conversations began to flow with people who walked past daily and spent time on this land: dog walkers, nature enthusiasts , school children, archaeologists. Gradually people brought their own work to show me and discuss on the footpath: sketches, historical photographs, artworks, poems , archaeological drawings, all of which somehow celebrated this beautiful place in a different way.

In parallel to this , conversations on the Didcot landscape also flowed at the Department of Archaeology at Oxford University , with the team of researchers from EnglaID. Their interest was such , that they began to compile special works based on Didcot and its extensive history.

An idea for an exhibition materialised , born out of these conversations. The Arts Centre at Didcot is called Cornerstone , who accepted the proposal for this idea, the aim being to reveal the immense depths of knowledge held by archaeologists, dog walkers, people of Didcot , and artists.

Exhibition launch

The exhibition has produced a remarkable amount of interest :

-from the Minister of Culture, Ed Vaisez, seen here talking to Professor Chris Gosden in front of the archaeology wall of the exhibition.

chris gosden and ed vaisez

– from 12 people and their helpers from Age UK, an exhibition visit and a workshop on landscape.

Age UK 3

watercolour age uk

– from Gemma,( amongst many other children ) aged 6 , from Dorset , here seen looking at one of the three films made for the exhibition:

Gemma aged 6 looking at the film

Discussions are ongoing and numerous, including an explanation, in front of an image in the exhibition , of how the Didcot hoard was found by the son ( Wayne Darley ) of the man who found it , on the Didcot Dog Mile ,( a few years ago )Bill Darley. It is now owned by the British Museum, and is on show at the Ashmolean Museum.

Didcot Hoard

Last Thursday, on Valentines day , there was a talk from Wendy Botto , a dog walker and artist( whose sensitive and emotional film was greatly received) , from Kate Woodley , Oxford Archaeology, whose indepth talk on the finds provided great interest,  Dr Anwen Cooper who provided an insight into the work of EnglaID and how she saw Didcot in this work , alongside the excavations of Dorchester on Thames, other speakers were Professor Chris Gosden ( head of Archaeology at Oxford University ), Karen Leahy , a dog walker, graphic artist , who spoke on behalf of the Didcot people , and myself , who explained the way the drawing emerged on the footpath. There were 70+ people attending the talk and the launch of the exhibition, an extraordinary turn out .

On the last count , there are 122 contributors, this vibrant  exhibition is at Cornerstone Art Centre until March 3rd.