Layered Time

Emma Harry

March 1st, 2018

The Gordon Peter Pickard travel bursary allowed me to travel to the Isle of Skye in Scotland and stay for one week to explore the unique geology of the area. I camped in Armadale and travelled to a small village called Elgol to explore the shore of Loch Scavaig. I came across an interesting and mysterious surface on the cliff. After research, I discovered the cliff is over 150 million years old and has attracted lots of interest from geologists over the last century but remains a bit of a mystery due to the original characteristics of the rock being altered by the heat from the Skye volcano that erupted around 60 million years ago. This volcano baked the layers of sandstone that make up the cliff at Elgol and produced much of the unique geological landscape that makes up Skye. This mysterious texture created by honeycomb weathering is something I have become fascinated with and have started to encounter in various locations. The trip to Skye came after finishing my dissertation which explored traces created in the rural landscape, this research informed the way I thought about the landscape on the trip and my work ever since.

The trip has given me inspiration for the second year of my MA where I have started to explore these geological mysteries to create surreal environments through installation and video. I created a moving image through layering my drawings and the video footage I shot on Skye.

Layered Time at TAG Archeology conference 2017

This work has become part of a larger exploration about the effect of time and erosion on the landscape and has influenced the current work I am making towards the final show. In my current work, I have created a series of drawings from observing some chalk rocks under a microscope. These rocks have been eroded by wind, water and sea creatures that form many holes within the rocks. I chose to create the drawings with the chalk rocks and have then arranged the drawings into a network that in parts seems to fit and in others is disjointed. This cubist approach of observing one object from all angles and creating one larger image allows the object to be seen in a different way, taking us into the surreal. The layering and movement of the projection on top of the image is to conjure the feelings of geological time, the strata of the earth in many layers building up over time. The landscape is being eroded by different entities including water, the shape of which is seen to be mirroring the shapes within the chalk rocks. My interest in water became more prominent over summer and while on Skye the bursary allowed me to experience the coast from the sea as I was able to get a boat into and around the Loch. This allowed me to gain a new perspective on the landscape. Over time I have been collecting movements of water and light through video and I have become interested in the sea’s interaction with the land.

In October this year I co-ran a project about Islands which included an expedition to the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. Although a very different island to Skye, my trip to Skye really informed this trip and gave me some ideas for the project. We were able to meet the locals and experience the community on Sheppey. We explored whether islands isolate or connect us and this was something I experienced on Skye. The sense of community was so apparent. People said hello to me and by the end of the week I felt like a local, having been welcomed into the community. Contrastingly at times I felt so far away and isolated, the sea acting as a physical and mental barrier. This was accentuated when I walked from Armadale to the southernmost point of Skye, the point of Sleat. From this point, you can look out to sea and see the Isle of Eigg and Rum. The two islands, Skye and Sheppey, although very different both share similarities. Sheppey is connected to the mainland by a bridge while Skye you must travel to by boat but both provoked similar contrasting feelings of belonging and isolation.

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