On Friday I headed back up the road to the STONEworks Early Architecture Project at Spittal, Caithness to lend a hand with the broch building ( you can read more about brochs and the project here in a previous post).

I must say again what a absolutely lovely team there are on site, and thanks to them for making Ian, my husband, and I so welcome! It seems it has been a busy week, with school parties, artists, and a lot of coming and going – so kudos to them for managing to make everyone that arrived on site feel informed, welcomed, involved and useful.

STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
Since being on site last time in was amazing to see the difference in the structure – whilst it wasn’t obviously a lot taller, the whole thing had ‘bulked out’ and gained a kind of beefiness. Very impressive.
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
Although I’m obviously interested in brochs and that time period in general, I think one of the things about being on site that I enjoy the most is simply the playing with stone. I just love stone. I love the feel of it, the colours, the textures… Bloomin’ lovely stuff!
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
Whilst we were there, the digger was being used to lift some heavy lintels into place to create the effect of being underneath the broch staircase. These were really beautiful bits of stone. Of course the short timescale of this project means only a proportion of higher wall is going to be get built on top of the structure (as seen in these pictures), but the lower level still has to be as authentic as possible.
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
This is the system of plates and wires which will facilitate the destabilisation of the broch at the end of the build. The plates will be pulled one at a time. There is always a chance the structure might refuse to fall – adds a bit of drama to the last day on site, will she, won’t she?

STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing was the little guard cell built with a corbelled roof within the wall structure. I really wanted to take some photo’s from inside of the newly enclosed space, I’m kind of into the idea of ‘enclosure’ (as you’ll know if you’ve followed my work). Sadly it was just a few stones off being capped when we clocked off for the day – this is how it looked as I left site, still very beautiful (and reminded me of a painting of the inside of a souterrain that I’ve still not got around to)…

STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art

STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
My husband, Ian, said he really enjoyed doing something different for the day, practical and problem solving.STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
This is the top of the lintel over the main doorway into the broch, at an interesting stage of build.
STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
I took a short time out of hands on help to do what I call a ‘memory sketch’ – these don’t necessarily turn out as facsimile copies of what I am looking at, I try not to become to fixated on that, but instead they are an exercise in searing into my mind colours, textures, shapes, ideas, light, feelings… It fixes things in my mind so I can call them back much more readily, more than a sketch, a process for observation and recall.

I’ve got a big abstract canvas on the go, based on colours and shapes from my first day broch building – but I’ve just realised I don’t have a snap to share with you just now… Next blog post I promise!

There are all sorts of ideas coming from my visits to the project so far – some revolve around layering and stacking, others around enclosure / protection, others come from the rock itself (especially the brilliance of the newly quarried rock). Thoughts that involve paint or ink, but also perhaps working 3D and textiles (even though these aren’t my normal areas of work). I’m really hoping I can make it back on site late this coming week to tidy up and expand these ideas.

STONEworks Early Architecture Project - Nicki MacRae Art
There’s a week of the build left, last day is Saturday 15th October. Again I’d really urge you to get on site if you possibly can and see and experience this wonderful and thoroughly interesting project first hand!

http://www.aocarchaeology.com/stoneworks/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.