I have said in a previous post that I have some very talented friends. Pete Yankowski has taken part in, and photographed a number of our workshops, and on the back of that invited Nacho, Paul and myself to contribute to his (excellent) Ancestors Awakening exhibition. The exhibition was hosted at the Water Street Gallery in Todmorden and I displayed a number of artefacts illustrating the theme of exploring materials.
Rosemary, the gallery owner, was kind enough to invite myself, and medical herbalist, Edwina Staniforth, to each give a talk providing some context to the works in the exhibition. Edwina’s talk was about the Birch tree, and as a pioneer species, the properties and qualities that may have been valued by people in the past.
My own talk was in two parts. The first part looked at the history of archaeology, examining how stone tools have been used to shape a series of different narratives about the past, and therefore a series of different pasts.
The second part was reflective, exploring how learning to make stone tools has shaped me and my experience of the world. From one of commodities and things, towards a world of materials and their agency.
When organising any kind of activity, I make sure it is the kind of thing I would love to go to. Consequently, I took with me two items from our teaching / handling collection: a Lower Palaeolithic handaxe and Middle Palaeolithic Levallois core and flake.
I never underestimate the value and privilege of being able to handle artefacts from our deep past. The audience was actively engaged throughout, and based upon feedback, both talks went well. However, I think that for most participants having the opportunity to handle actual Palaeolithic artefacts was the real highlight. As it would have been for me.