Last August I went along to visit Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden, just down the road from Rhynie. SSW was established in 1979 by sculptor Fred Bushe, RSA OBE. Their website describes their purpose.
SSW is a making and thinking facility – offering the time, space, support and facilities to artists from all backgrounds to develop their practice, with an emphasis on experimentation and exploration of sculpture within the expanded field.
The project they have been working on at the time was called From Turf to Tools, it is an ongoing investigation into landscape, material and craft, inspired by local archeological investigations in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire.
The collaboration of Scottish Sculpture Workshop artist Eden Jolly and master blacksmith Darrell Markewitz, with Dr. Gordon Noble, archeologist at University of Aberdeen, will seek to recreate a ceremonial axe – as seen on the Rhynie Man standing stone – through smelting and forging locally sourced materials. Two writers, Maxime Hourani (Lebanon) and Deirdre O’Mahony (Ireland) will document the collaborative research process
The event was spectacular and reminded me of when I was growing up in Rhynie, not just what they were doing but the sounds, sights and smells were so evocative. What a great way of bringing our history alive.
The axe let the experts and public see how it could have potentially been used and they concluded that it was more likely to be ceremonial and not an axe for cutting wood, perhaps it was for knocking beasts over the head with! I’m still keeping them guessing, but through the making process they are getting a closer understanding of how we lived and the considerable effort and skill we employed in making our tools. We were a sophisticated bunch!