Drawn from Ice: a conversation between art & alpine archaeology - 1 December

Image (copyright): Marcel Cornelissen /Valentin Luthiger/Institut “Kulturen der Alpen»

Image (copyright): Marcel Cornelissen /Valentin Luthiger/Institut “Kulturen der Alpen»

Join us for this online Drawing Discussion: Drawn from Ice - a conversation between art and alpine archaeology on Thursday 1 December at 6pm with artist Sarah Casey and glacial archaeologists, Marcel Cornelissen and Regula Gubler. The Drawing Discussion will be chaired by artist and writer, Gerry Davies, and is held in association with Emergency! Sarah Casey, the current exhibition at Drawing Projects UK. Register for a free place here; please note that many of our events are popular and operate a waitlist.

This Drawing Discussion will explore glacial archaeology, why is it important and will discuss some sites and finds, reflecting on what art and drawing can do in response. Marcel Cornelissen and Regula Gubler both joined Sarah Casey in experimental field work undertaken in July in Switzerland that formed part of the research underpinning the work made for the exhibition. 

Sarah Casey is a visual artist and researcher working at the cusp of drawing and sculpture. Her drawings explore the limits of visibility and material existence arise from working alongside researchers from other fields, ranging from archaeology to astrophysics. Solo exhibitions of her work have been at Kensington Palace, The Bowes Museum and most recently at Ryerson University, Toronto. She is Senior Lecturer in Drawing and Installation at Lancaster University, UK where she is Director for the School of Fine Art. Sarah was a Royal Drawing School Scottish artist-in-residence in 2020 and a Visiting Research Fellow at The Henry Moore Institute from 2020-21. Her current work explores the provocations of glacial archaeology. With Rebecca Birch and Jen Southern she is co-founder of the Rocky Climates network bringing together artists concerned with the mobilities and temporal, spatial, cultural instabilities of landscapes in uncertain times.

Marcel Cornelissen is an archaeologist and project director of the “Bergeis” project (“Mountain ice”) at the Institute «Cultures of the Alps» in Altdorf in the Swiss Alps (affiliated with the University of Luzern). He studied at the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam University of the Arts NL, archaeology at the University of Leicester UK and cognitive evolution at the University of Reading UK. He has carried out fieldwork in various countries in Europe and the Near East. His interests include the prehistory of the Alps and the Early Holocene Hunter-fisher-gatherer societies of central western Europe, especially in alpine environments. The “Bergeis” project is based around a rock crystal extraction site near the Fuorcla da Strem Sut at 2817masl used by Mesolithic rock crystal hunters. The site was covered by glacial ice until 2013. The project not only studies the extraction and use of rock crystal by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in the Swiss Alps in the context of both current and prehistoric climatic and environmental change. It also engages with both the population of the region and with others using the alpine landscape, such as alpinists, hunters and crystal hunters. 

Regula Gubler is an archaeologist and project director for the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Berne, Switzerland. She trained at the University of Reading UK. Having done fieldwork in the England, Scotland, Jordan and Egypt, she now works in Switzerland and one of the main focusses of her work is the archaeology of the Alps and glacial archaeology. Besides conducting fieldwork throughout the Canton of Berne, she is also responsible for the monitoring of ice patches and glaciers in Canton Berne with known archaeological sites and for other archaeological (field)work in the Bernese Alps, dating from the Early Neolithic to the beginning of alpinism in the Bernese Alps. Finds from two ice patch sites, the Schnidejoch pass (2756 masl) and the Lötschenpass (2677 masl), show people used these passes throughout history, from the 5th millennium resp. early 2nd millennium BCE until today. The artefacts range from clothing to equipment and even food remains illustrating a long and colourful history of life in the Alps responding to environmental and societal changes. Objects from the Schnidejoch pass, feature in Sarah Casey’s exhibition.

Gerry Davies is an artist, writer and Senior Lecturer in Drawing at Lancaster University and co-author with Sarah Casey of Drawing Investigations: graphic relationships with science, culture and environment (Bloomsbury 2020. Gerry's drawing is founded on notebooks, as tools for documentation and places to dream graphically. Larger drawings carried out in the studio blend together observation and imagination. Falling into thematic groups, they are materially and compositionally carefully planned to communicate speculative ideas and images. For example, the drawings that make up Flood Story and Retreat to Caves! play out themes of environmental and social change, most recently visual speculation on the effect of global warming and rising sea levels. Individual drawings have been exhibited, predominantly in survey shows and group exhibitions. A drawing from Crowds and Power was included in Drawing Inspiration, a 2006 survey of contemporary British drawing at Abbott Hall Kendal and shortlisted for the 2007 Jerwood Drawing Prize, as was one from the Raft series in 2015. A group of Retreat to Caves! were exhibited in a 2013 survey of British drawing at Salisbury Art Centre. In 2016 a Cave drawing was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize. Drawings from Flood Story were exhibited in a solo show at Drawing Projects UK in 2017; recently one was awarded second prize at the 2019 Wales Contemporary and another shortlisted for the 2020 New Light prize.

The exhibition and associated events are presented as part of the Being Human Festival 2022 and kindly supported by Lancaster University and Arts Council England.