From 29 October to 6 November, the ADS and the Department of Archaeology at the University of York was delighted to welcome Leyla Cárdenas Campos and her partner Ramón Villamarin Leaño. Based inBogotá, Colombia, Leyla is one of five artists/artist partnerships to be chosen for a prestigious artist residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands, as part of the NEARCH project. One of the many aspects of public participation within archaeology under exploration by NEARCH, each artist is given the opportunity to work directly with archaeologists, and explore new avenues of communication. A parallel set of residencies is also being carried out Le Centquatre in Paris.
As the ADS is a partner in NEARCH, and knowing the great capacity within the Department of Archaeology at York to work with artists, we expanded the residency to the whole department. We were truly fortunate to be paired with Leyla, as her wonderful work resonates with so much of what we do. During their time in York, Leyla and Ramón participated in a wide range of activities. Their first day in York they toured King’s Manor, chatted with Charlotte Rowley and Becky Knight, and got to see some Mesolithic artefacts up close. The next morning they joined Colleen Morgan’s art and archaeology undergraduate seminar, giving them an opportunity to meet and discuss art with archaeology students, and giving the students an opportunity to understand the perspective of an artist. At the end of the day, Leyla presented her work to the department, giving both staff and research students the opportunity to see, understand and start a discussion about her work and ideas, and formally begin their time in York. This was of course followed by the Friday ritual of a trip to the pub, for more informal discussion and socialising!
As the department is split between two locations, the following Monday we met with the BioArCh research group, to connect further with the archaeological scientists. Leyla presented her work more informally, which included a lively discussion about the many parallels between her work and the myriad approaches taken within archaeological science. This was followed by further discussions with Sarah Fiddyment, who is using proteomic analysis to better understand the speciation of parchment throughout history,
and Helen Williams, who is using soil micromorphology to better understand human burial. She also met with buildings archaeologist Kate Giles to better understand how archaeologists approach the built environment. Kate is also heavily involved in the York Curiouser project, which explores the City of York through contemporary art interventions, much of which is focussed on the historic fabric of the city. We then met Gareth Beale and Nicole Beale to discuss their collaborative art and archaeology work with local communities and the Winchester School of Art through the Basing House Project.
They also met with Robyn Inglis to learn more about goearchaeology, soil micromorphology and environmental change in archaeological landscapes, and spent some time processing artefacts with our undergrads. They were also given a tour of the conservation lab at the York Archaeological Trust by Mags Felter. Palaeontologist (and friend of the department) Liam Herringshaw of the University of Hull, even gave them a geological tour of York.
Leyla and Ramón have now returned to Columbia, and are processing what they saw and experienced, and making decisions about what to do next. In the end, they felt they had only scratched the surface, and would like to return to learn more and carry out some more specific collaborations. We hope they come back soon!