Snows of the Past

Snow Patch Tunnel

Seasons greetings,

and many thanks to all followers and supporters of HeritageLandscapeCreativity.

The tunnel above runs beneath ten meters of snow forming part of the Juvfonna snow patch in Norway.  Research has shown this deep snow has remained preserved, largely unmelted, for at least three thousand years: until in recent years where it has been melting more rapidly and revealing artefacts preserved within…!

It located not far from the highest peak in Norway, Galdhøpiggen (2469 m), and is within the Mímisbrunnr Klimapark 2469.


Bronze Inspired Creativity

CinBA-conference-bannerCreativity in the Bronze Age, and contemporary responses to it, will be explored at an important conference next year at the University of Cambridge: more details can be found on the CinBA Conference-Flyer.  The conference is part of an ongoing research project ‘Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe’ (CinBA), further details of which can be found at the CinBA project website.  I would certainly recommend exploring the website of this fascinating and innovative research project.

One striking example of the way in which contemporary responses to the Bronze Age have been addressed by the project was through engaging with contemporary artists who have explored aspects of Bronze Age material culture through a variety of mediums.  Please have a look at the great example of ceramics produced by students who worked on the project, as part of Santorini Biennale of Arts 2012, which can be seen in an exhibition catalogue.   Another fantastic example of works inspired by knowledge of the Bronze Age by contemporary craft students can also be viewed in a booklet.

Importantly the research seeks to develop practices which go beyond the ‘current state of the art’ and its results may have some exciting impacts, such as providing

‘the basis for new types of heritage experiences in which creative potentials of objects are more imaginatively explored, as well as offering inspiration and new roles for the contemporary craft sector.’

A project which is well worth watching for its results.

The CinBA project was one of nine funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) researching aspects of creativity.

I wonder what the other eight projects are researching ?

Straw, Sticks and Stones

Straw, sticks and stones are three key traditional building materials in the story of the wolf and the three pigs: a story which perhaps demonstrates the need to have the right materials to hand for building conservation projects…!

Traditional Roofing

The most recent English Heritage  Conservation bulletin is on the theme of building materials.  It contains two short articles which show the huge importance of sustainable sources of traditional building materials.

The first article ‘The Strategic Stone Study -matching stone sources to end uses‘ is by Tarnia McAlester, who explains the important links between geology, quarry sites and availability of appropriate materials for repairing historic buildings in particular landscapes.  More information about the Strategic Stone Study can also be found at the British Geological Survey website.  There has also been a good work done on such issues by Historic Scotland’s Conservation Group who have produced Technical Advice Notes and Research Papers about traditional materials.  Two reports are of particular interest and available online, including the TAN 12 Quarries of Scotland and TAN 21 Scottish Slate Quarries.

Front cover for Conservation Bulletin 69

The second article in Conservation bulletin, ‘Ensuring supplies of suitable thatching straw‘ by Stephen Letch, explains that problems with supplies of thatching straw has led to an increased use of imported water reeds as an alternative material.  This led to the formation of the National Thatching Straw Growers Association who are doing growing trials on different varieties of wheat crop to establish what conditions are required to produce the best straw for different applications and techniques.

However, the maintenance of sources of traditional building materials is not simply a historic building conservation issue, they also allow architects to incorporate these materials into new buildings in ways which can be more sympathetic to the setting of historic buildings and to the character of the broader landscape.  Indeed, the growth of traditional crops, and a greater number of varieties in our landscapes, would help with biodiversity, and is perhaps more sustainable than importing from across the world.

That’s got to make the big bad wolf happier…?

Terre Des Hommes

I wasn’t able to walk within this landscape…

Bali - designed by Liz Eeuwesas it is a fabulous rug designed by Liz Eeuwes depicting the Balinese landscape.

She has designed two collections of handmade rugs.  The first in 2009 was entitled Landscapes and comprises three rugs portraying aerial views of landscapes, together which show the striking difference in field systems and settlement patterns through landscapes from Netherlands, Bali and Scotland.

Strathmore / Kansas by Liz Eeuwes

The second collection Terre Des Hommes continues to explore landscapes but through more abstract designs inspired by the ways in which landscapes are evoked through storytelling.

More thoughts about the designer’s inspirations from landscapes, storytelling and carving can be found at the Eeuwes website.  It would be wonderful to experience one of these landscapes everyday but, they are so beautiful, I do not know if I could bring myself to walk upon them…

They are however on display till the 14th of December at South Block.

Community Land Art

Severn-Side Snowballs

Severn-Side Snowballs by The Snowball Gang – image from website
by kind permission of the artist

I love the spirit of this,

it is a great example of co-production,

and snowballs make it seasonal at this time of year,

but the joy is you can make snowballs all year round and contribute to a land art project.

For other examples of snowball land art and to find out how to contribute, please go to:

The Snowball Gang – A community Art Project by Sybil Edwards.

Please let me know if you send a snowball.

Now where is the paper and water…?

Seascape Heritage

The interplay of light and water, hills and industrial heritage…

Seascape Heritage

Many of our larger estuaries have been the focus for settlement, industry and trade for centuries.

An entanglement of tens of thousands of peoples journeys,

millions of tons of materials and gallons of liquids,

have passed along these waters.

Creating Natural Wetlands

Landscapes can appear natural but when you understand their history it is clear appearances can be deceptive.

Lake Kirkini PelicanOne such landscape can be found at the center of Lake Kerkini National Park, Greece.  Here there is a striking example of the complex unintended consequences of a major infra-structure project.  In 1932 a dam was built on the River Strymonas to create a massive reservoir for irrigation and flood protection, which also resulted in the creation of a dynamic landscape from the marshlands along the riverside.

Lake Kirkini PelicanThe seasonal water level of the reservoir dropped three meters in depth between spring and autumn-winter, which resulted in a 5000 hectare lake being reduced to almost nothing by winter.  These seasonal changes in water level created riparian forests, with trees being flooded, depending on altitude for between 50 and 190 days of the year.  This dynamic habitat meant Lake Kirkini became an increasing focus of a remarkable range and number of bird life (including pelicans and flamingos) and as such was recognized in 1975 as an internationally important RAMSAR site for migratory birds.

A new dam was built in 1982, which increased the seasonal fluctuation to about a 5 m change in water level, and resulted in the surface of the lake varying from between 5000 to 7,300 hectares.  The larger level and size of the lake meant that the shallow parts of the lake were more limited, many of the seasonal breeding locations for the birds were permanently flooded and the riparian forest underwater for longer and dying out.

Lake Kirkini Pelican PlatformLake Kirkini has also been an important focus for economic activity (including fisheries and tourism) in the region.  It was also the host of the largest population of water buffalo in Greece, and other mammals, which were causing problems with over grazing (reducing habitat for nesting) and trampling of nests.

In 2006 Lake Kerkini was established as a National Park.  The management authority of the National Park has been taking measures to gradually reduce the water levels and to re-balance the dynamics required for riparian forest and the associated breeding birds.  This long term vision to re-balance the wetland, is being supported by shorter term interim measures such as creating artificial platforms for the pelicans to breed on while water levels are changed more gradually.

A landscape which is such an important hub of biodiversity, but also important in economic terms to local communities, is clearly dependent on its sensitive integrated management for a balanced future.