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science

Today I have been looking at Gaps between Trees.

Pine, Beech Birch, Ash

And my dear friend the Oak Tree in my local Park.

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Dark Day. Looking forwards to more light

2019 has been the year of working with Andy Barret on a transitions project based upon the 1620 House in Hugglescote, Leicestershire. We were a part of a larger project, looking at ways in which this wonderful Medieval House (which was modernised in 1620 with New Windows) can be utilised to enhance children’s learning experience. The great discovery has been of Sir Kenelm Digby (who’s sister lived in the house). Why had I never heard of him before? A Man of his times, a child of one of the Gun Powder conspirators, he grew to become a proto-scientist, diarist, glass technologists, foodie, art collector and privateer. The whole project has b een a delight and the 120 children we have worked with have been great companions on this journey of discovery.

I played the part of a ‘phenomenologist’ looking back at how the structure of experienced might have been perceived at the time. Through the senses, Smell, Taste, Sound, Sight and Touch we relived the 17th century experience and made many experiments and created art works and writings to see how these have impacted upon modern empirical science. Sounds dry but in fact was lots of fun. Sad that part is all over. Next step, to write it all up with recommendations as to how the activities might be used in the future.

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Last week I went to the Museum of Anthropology and Archeology in Cambridge.
I went specifically to see the Star Carr exhibition as they are the oldest mask like objects to have been found in the UK.
This has set me off on a new series of drawings.I wanted to share these with you as a part of my own thinking process.
I have been making drawings for the past year or so and spending several months on each series.  A series being one large work 150cm square plus a variable number of subsidiary images (A2).
The Star Carr masks  (and there are several of them, maybe 20?) are mesolithic objects made of Red Dear Skulls  which were adapted to be worn. Possibly on the top of a persons head. What I find most intriguing is that the antlers have been cut down to remove the points and then hollowed out. Literally an attempt to getting inside the animal. Many flint tools were found with them.
The first image is the start of a  new large drawing to which I shall be adding layers of images as they occur. Day one of  a process that  I expect to last for  several months.
The second image is the current source material  I am playing with right now. The third photo is of a memory of a shamanic ritual concerning fire and larch trees, a portal into another world. The first of who knows how many subsidiary drawings.

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The early summer has been dominated by this project in Leicestershire, working with Andy Barret, The 1620 House, a Primary School and Dragon’s Breath Theatre. I can’t believe I had never heard of this extraordinary person, Sir Kenelm Digby. Our Ken was a proto scientist, diplomat, privateer, man of letters and inventor. Such an inspiration to all of us involved.

The House and Garden are a delight. Visitors are encouraged to truly interact with the place as most ‘things’ in the house are replica’s and therefore handleable. This was the home of the sister of Sir Kenelm. She who modernised the medieval building with new windows in 1620. The garden is laid out as of the time with a maze, herbarium and roses.

In the House we told the story of Sir Kenelm  Digby and his world.  I, as Dr Jon (Phenomenologist,)  took  on the role of a scientist looking back at 17th Century through the five senses, smell, taste, sound, sight and touch. Andy in role as an Historian, told the story of Sir Kenelm, of 17th Century  world view and the rise of science out of superstition. Sir Kenelm was the son of one of the Bonfire Plot conspirators.

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Back at the school the children spent three days with us to make manifest their own story of the visit to the 1620 House and of Sir Kenelm Digby, his wife Venetia, through puppetry, scientific experiments, writing (prose and poetry), image making and performance.

A fascinating journey for us all, with history and science made alive.