The broch has an artist in residence over the next few months, the amazing artist in metal, Julia Cowie. She’s not actually going to be living in the broch, which is a bit draughty these days! But she will be in Assynt to create some new work and inspire local people. Her activities will help us to imagine how some of the metal objects that have been found in the broch were made.
As she said in her application for the residency: ‘I will make a sculpture and a series of small metal pieces using traditional casting techniques and working on site as far as practicable. This means that the local community can join in throughout the process. The people who lived in the broch would have needed to work together and I think it important that the togetherness of this project to date is reflected in the final work.’
The primary school children from Lochinver will be the first to join in activities with Julia. On 24 September 2018 some of the older children will join Julia at Glencanisp art studio to find out a bit about how she works metal in traditional ways and to have a go themselves. Anna Mackay from Achmelvich has provided beeswax for the children to carve into models or medallions for the community sculpture. These waxes will be cast in bronze at a public event using primitive casting methods that the broch residents would recognize. The pupils will also try their hand at casting in sand, making beads to string on nettle thread necklaces or bracelets.
Later that week students from Ullapool High will have a hands-on experience of copper smelting using a pit furnace as well as trying out sand casting.
Finally in this first round of events, Julia will join local author Mandy Haggith for a public event on Iron Age metalworking on Saturday 6 October 2018, from 2.30pm, as part of the Highland Archaeology Festival. Again there will be an opportunity to take part in a copper smelt with Julia, hear about primitive bronze casting methods and to carve wax for the community sculpture. Mandy will read relevant passages from her novel, The Walrus Mutterer, a fictional account of people who lived in the broch.