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A new film work by artist Laura Wilson

14 January 2020

Artist Laura Wilson has created a new film work exploring the hidden landscape of Must Farm near Peterborough. The film will be presented in the Boudica Gallery at Norwich Castle from 18 January to 29 March 2020 and screened across the region from April to June 2020.

The Must Farm pile-dwelling site is an exceptionally well-preserved settlement dating to the end of the Bronze Age (c. 850BC) located on the edge of a working quarry. The site, often referred to as the UK’s Pompeii, has been excavated by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, revealing many important discoveries about how people lived and worked. Working closely with Cambridge Archaeological Unit, Wilson explores this and other discoveries, opening up questions around labour, trade and everyday life.

The exhibition includes twelve Bronze Age vessels that have been excavated from the Must Farm site on loan from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. It also includes objects and seating from Laura Wilson’s performance Deep, Deepen, Deepening which took place at Must Farm Quarry on Saturday 19 October 2019.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, says: ‘‘It’s wonderful to have such a fascinating installation on show in the Boudica Gallery at Norwich Castle. Visitors will be able to see for themselves the historic landscape of Must Farm and get close to some of the ancient objects discovered there. This has all been made possible through our involvement with the New Geographies project which offers audiences a chance to see parts of the East of England in a new light.”

Wilson has been commissioned by Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery as part of the East Contemporary Visual Arts Network three-year project, New Geographies, led by Wysing Arts Centre. New Geographies aims to create a new map of the East of England based on unexplored or overlooked places. In 2017, the public was invited to nominate locations in the region that they found meaningful or interesting to them. Over 270 sites were identified, with ten artists commissioned to highlight some of these places through new site-specific work. Wilson’s work responds to the nominated site ‘View from the North Brink across the Fens’ from which the landscape it shares with Must Farm is visible.

Artist, Laura Wilson, says: “It has been such a privilege to have worked so closely with Mark Knight and his team at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and Forterra to realise this project. Must Farm has revealed such fascinating insights into how people lived and worked during the Bronze Age period, within a broader landscape that even today, is continually changing and adapting.”

Dr Rosy Gray, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Laura Wilson on this new site-specific work for New Geographies. Wilson has painstakingly researched this unique landscape through the eyes of those who work there, providing a fresh and radical new perspective on our collective archaeological histories.”

Mark Knight, Lead Archaeologist at Must Farm, Cambridge Archaeological Unit, says: “The Must Farm quarry is the biggest hole in Fenland and as such is unparalleled in the perspective it affords on this deeply buried landscape. As archaeologists we are very fortunate to be able to explore the prehistoric settlements and sediments exposed by this vast aperture. Over the past year we have doing this in the company of the artist Laura Wilson, sharing our insights or understandings of the different textures and temporalities. At the same time, we have been able to relate to Laura’s way of seeing, her explicit engagement with process and the labour involved in the making of this particular landscape, past and present. Now we are keen to witness Laura’s Must Farm, and her ‘take’ on this deep space.”

Donna Lynas, Director, Wysing Arts Centre, says: “New Geographies was developed to bring the very best contemporary art to unexpected places in the East of England. Those places were nominated by members of the public and it is thrilling to see how Laura Wilson has responded to the unique site of Must Farm. Her work responds not only to the history and geography of the site, it locates ideas of time and community very much in the present and highlights an archaeological treasure that perhaps not everyone will know about. Her work will bring new audiences to both the history of Must Farm, and to contemporary art.”

Deepening has been commissioned by Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery as part of the East Contemporary Visual Art Network’s three-year project, New Geographies. New Geographies is funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence.

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