Prompted by this news piece today about the Roman irrigation system discovered on the site by the archaeology team we've been working with I thought I would post a bit more on the process that led us to Tomorrow, Today our big fat cob project we're currently recruiting for!
We have now been have been working as the artists in residence on the new NWC development site for almost a year and it has been a really fascinating chance to work alongside the archaeologists and become involved with the site in a very hands-on way. As we were part of the 'first wave' of artists to be appointed we felt quite keenly that we've been given a unique chance to look back at the history of site, to record its present condition and to try and imagine the future part of the city about to be built.
At the beginning of our residency we joined the team actually digging on site, this was a very muddy, extremely cold week but one we wouldn't have missed for the world! It gave us a chance to think about all these aspects of the project whilst engaged in a very literal way with the physical place. We were completely engaged with the process of the archaeology and caught up by the enthusiasm and expertise that surrounded us on the rather windswept moon-like landscape we were digging. Somehow the archaeologists were able to transport themselves (and us) back in time and really imagine how this part of Cambridge may have previously been 100's of years ago. Meanwhile in spite of lots of fly throughs, models and talks we seemed to be finding it very difficult to imagine what these muddy fields might look like even 5 years into the future.
This experience on the dig in many ways generated both of the projects we're now exploring - Prospection and Tomorrow, Today. Prospection is a proposal for a very long term repeated survey of the new site and tries to 'forward face' the on-going creation of an archive for the place. Tomorrow, Today engages with the present nature of the site, and the current unique archaeological access to the past that been revealed through the dig.
The work will be a large-scale (circa 80m in diameter), outdoor, sculptural model of the future development - which places scale replicas of all the planned streets and buildings right next to the archaeological dig on site. This 'model village of the future' will be hand-built on location using 'cob', a traditional, ecologically-sustainable material made primarily from the earth excavated in situ by the archaeologists. The artwork will remain in place for at least a year, before being buried beneath this new part of Cambridge for future archaeologists to discover!
We're very keen for others to enjoy the experience we've had on the site and so the project offers a unique opportunity to be part of building this sculpture. We are seeking individual members of the public, and formal or informal groups of adults who would like to learn the traditional craft of cob building and to use these skills to help construct the model during its 6-week build, working with the UK's leading cob experts. Each participant will be expected to commit 5 consecutive week days to the project, which will include expert training in cob, in-person guidance from us and hands-on practice creating the model itself. Facilities, tools, parking and refreshments will all be provided.
Participants should be 18 years of age or older, and aware that whilst cob building is a safe and easy-to-learn skill, taking part in the project does require a reasonable degree of physical stamina and is regrettably not suitable for participants with limited mobility.
Interested people and groups are encouraged to register their interest as early as possible - from now until Monday 31st March. Contact cob 'at' somewhere.org.uk for more info.