Renowned potter Chris Carter and archaeologist Martin Green share their fascination with the prehistoric past of Cranborne Chase. Through art and artefact, they reveal a story of the humans that occupied the landscape before history was written.
Out of the Earth explores a dialogue between artist and archaeologist as they respond to the objects excavated from flint-rich soils of Cranborne Chase. Artefacts from Martin’s own museum, which displays the finds he has discovered over the years, will be on display alongside Chris’s artwork and objects from Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Together, the objects describe and uncover the imprints left by farming, community and ritual activities in the past.
Chris and Martin describe themselves as ‘sons of the soil’, both having been raised on farms in the countrysides of Warwickshire and Dorset. They met following a BBC4 radio show ‘Open Country’ which featured Down Farm on Cranborne Chase. Martin had been excavating there since he inherited it in 1979 and Chris’s interest in the Chase landscape soon developed into a passion for exploring it through his art.
The exhibition shows new developments in Chris’s work and is itself a testimony to the continuing influence of prehistoric people on us today as their artistry, communities and ritual activities are re-discovered through archaeology. Chris describes the way he searches for his pots in the clay as akin to the archaeologist’s search for an object in the earth. Cranborne Chase has encouraged his art to take new routes which have seen him sculpting from flint and creating 2D collage works. A deep-seated influence of the landscape and farming is apparent in his work; his pots suggest the sinuous twist of the plough and the symmetry of the stone axe, whilst the surface textures reflect the processes of people and nature on the landscape.
Both pot and artefact have a power and contemplative quality that makes Out of the Earth an exhibition not to be missed. Here, the passion for the Cranborne landscape and for the people who lived on and moulded it, is deep-seated, inherent and heartfelt. The stories revealed are told by two people who know the landscape intimately, both inside and out, and can tell those stories with an authority and understanding that cannot be disputed.