My Gillray-inspired political cartoons about Old Oswestry have been part of an exhibition of art inspired by the iron age hillfort put on by the Artists Hugging the Hillfort group. The exhibition has been at The Willow Gallery in Oswestry, and is now at Blossoms Gallery in Aberystwyth all through June.
As part of the exhibition opening at The Willow, I gave a short talk about the connections between art and archaeology. The response from the audience was really interesting. Most people attending the talk were completely unaware that there were any connections between archaeology and art – but most were also immediately enthusiastic about the possibilities and potentials of those connections.
For archaeologists, connections with art are opportunities to explore relationships between past material culture and the wider social and cultural meanings of ancient landscape, environment and ecology. But for local communities, connections between art and archaeology are opportunities to help express intimate, contemporary relationships between people and place.
This exhibition brought home to me how much the connections between art and archaeology have to offer those who often feel powerless in the battle to preserve and protect their local heritage. Art about archaeology gives members of a community the chance to show the lived importance of their historical, ancient and ecological heritage – to politicians, to developers, to friends and neighbours… even to archaeologists.