SHERDS: Five Verses on Six Sacks of Earth

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I know small things. I let time go slow. Preserving a record – wearing it – bent bodied

Hawthorn. Curlew. Catherine. A Milk Bowl. Greg (gritstone). An ensemble of musicians, vocalists, and sound-emitting sculptures perform five perspectives on landscape, history, and the process of excavation, articulating the out of sight and out of time.

Sherds is a new performance which inhabits the parameters of a six-week archaeological field school in a silage meadow during the record hot summer of 2018. The five verses unearth, reassemble, and form anew from passing conversations, local news, and the rhythms of the dig, incorporating energy production, moorland nesting sites, ceramic sherds, early modern melody, and geological vibrations. The piece combines text, improvisation, field recordings and newly composed music.

In summer 2018, Nastassja Simensky and Rebecca Lee were commissioned by In-Situ and Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership to be artists-in-residence on an archaeological dig at Malkin Tower farm. The resulting ‘micro-opera’ was shared locally in performances across Pendle.

The development of a full-scale performance based on this commission is being funded by Sound and Music, Jerwood Arts, Arts Council England, and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Sherds was produced by Nastassja Simensky and Rebecca Lee with musicians Kelly Jayne Jones, Sophie Cooper, Alison Cooper, Caroline Trutz, and Bobby Cotterill.

Join us for a post-performance conversation and discussion with archegologists Danielle Knights and Dr Katy Soar that will explore some of the themes in the performance and offer a chance to learn more about the Malkin Tower Farm dig. We will touch on archeology and story telling, archaeological knowledge and performance.

Written and directed by Nastassja Simensky and Rebecca Lee
Composition: Rebecca Lee with the ensemble and Mark Dennis
Performed by Kelly Jayne Jones, Sophie Cooper, Alison Cooper, Rebecca Lee, Caroline Trutz, Nastassja Simensky, and Bobby Cotterill
Set and Costume: Nastassja Simensky
Pattern Cutter: Karen Harrigan
Lighting Design and Engineer: Seth Rook Williams
Sound Engineer: Jim Brouwer
Production Assistant: Sophia Simensky
Graphic Design: Dr Joseph Lilley - Holodeck
Editorial Consultancy: Maria Fusco
Choreography Consultancy: Simone Kenyon
Photography: Reece Straw
Press and Marketing: Emily Sherwood

Sherds is developed from a commission by Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership and In-Situ, is funded by Sound and Music, Jerwood Arts, Arts Council England, and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and supported by The Harris and Nottingham Contemporary.

Danielle Knights is a mature student who returned to university to study archaeology, her lifelong obsession, after being a support worker for 8 years. She is fascinated with discovering new and surprising things and is passionate about uncovering the truth and exposing gender, class and racial bias in history. She is working on a masters dissertation about the treatment of seaside leisure landscapes in her hometown to expose how we pick and choose what is heritage and what is not, and the processes by which a landmark and landscape transforms from functional to heritage to archaeology. Danielle took part in the dig and field school at Malkin Town farm, whilst Nastassja and Rebecca were in residence.

Dr Katy Soar is a lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Winchester. Her main areas of research includes Minoan Crete, the history and reception of archaeology, the relations between archaeology and folklore, and a focus on archeological approaches to performance. She is interested in the ways archaeological knowledge is created and employed, especially in the use of photography and postcards of archaeological sites to create popular archaeological knowledge in the early 20th century and the influence of archaeology and anthropology on popular culture, specifically literature, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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