Exhibition of Ness-inspired ceramics opens in London

Feast and Found Exhibition. Southwark Cathedral, London.An exhibition of ceramics inspired by the Ness of Brodgar opens in Southwark Cathedral, London, today, Monday, January 14.

During the summer of 2018, Diane Eagles was one of the artists-in-residence at the dig and produced site-specific ceramics referencing the making and decorative techniques found in Neolithic Grooved Ware pots. Using clay found in Orkney, the works are entitled Feast: Milk, Beef and Beer.

After the excavation, another set of pots were made entitled Found. Also inspired by Neolithic Grooved ware, these pots are influenced by skeuomorphic Orkney basket designs and cordage rope making. 

Feast, by Diane Eagles.
Feast by Diane Eagles.

Feast: ritual feasting vessels entitled Milk, Beef, and Beer are endowed with symbolic references to Neolithic ceramics, feasting and the Ness of Brodgar archaeological site. They are coloured white, red and black, referencing the importance of colour on the site, and the items they connect to.

Milk is a pale Orkney clay, representing the purity and fundamental importance of milk. The clay incorporates lichen, winter cow fodder, gathered from the Ness of Brodgar standing stone. The surface is coloured white with powdered burnt cattle bone and decorated with a delicate, intricate grooved ware style embellishment.

Beef is coloured with a red Iron Orkney boulder clay slip onto a pale Orkney clay body representing the strength and blood of cattle. The clay incorporates fragments of burnt bone from the dig. The surface is decorated with thick, dominant cordons emulating cattle horn shapes.

Beer is Black, the pale Orkney clay body coloured with a red boulder clay slip incorporating and surface decorated with charcoal, then polished with Beeswax. The depth of colour representing the unknown and unseen, the unpredictability and intoxication offered by alcohol. The clay incorporates grain, blown out in places, it disturbs the ordered grooved ware lines, the shape reminiscent of a celebration cog or barrel.

The pot lids add another symbolic layer, a cooling, napped slate lid for Milk with meadow flower addition, a cow’s ear cover for Beef, and a coiled grass mat lid for Beer.

Found by Diane Eagles.
Found by Diane Eagles.

Found: ritual vessels for gathered food entitled Forage, Offering and Share. These works reference Neolithic grooved ware finds from the Ness of Brodgar, and the idea of bringing food together to share for celebration. 

Forage uses clay found in Trench Y and incorporating bone temper. It is decorated with cordons using Orkney boulder clay in the style of skeuomorphic Orkney carrier basket design.   

Offering is made from grey boulder clay from the Orkney coastal cliffs, incorporating stone and bone temper from the Ness. It is a replica of the complete grooved ware pot found in Structure Fourteen, considered a possible offering to the building.   

Share is a larger pot for shared contents using grey boulder clay from the Orkney coastal cliffs and incorporating grey Orkney clay grog. The rim of it’s bold grooved ware decoration imitating twisted rope or cordage.

Feast and Found – Ceramic work inspired by the Ness of Brodgar runs at Southwark Cathedral, London, until February 28.