© Stephen Vaughan

Stephen Vaughan
Opened Landscape: Lindow, Tollund, Grauballe

Stephen Vaughan's project is primarily concerned with the layering of time within the landscape. With qualities of stillness, silence and clarity, his photographs resonate with connections to archaeology, history, memory and myth.

"Opened Landscape: Lindow, Tollund, Grauballe" is a series of large format colour photographs of three sites: Lindow Moss in Cheshire, with accompanying sequences made at Bjældskovdal (Tollund) and Nebelgard Fen (Grauballe), in Jutland, Denmark.

These sites are linked by the three most significant discoveries of preserved, Iron Age, sacrificial bog burials, and have been the undisturbed resting places of preserved human bodies for two thousand years. The bodies have been almost perfectly preserved by the unique qualities of the acid bog-water. As sites of ritual and sacrifice, these "opened landscapes" occupy a place between the known and the unknown, between being and remaining, where the preserved surfaces of accumulated centuries rest in a state of liminality, awaiting the peat-cutter's spade and the scrutiny of archaeologist, poet or picture-maker.

Vaughan's photographs show a vivid representation of the bogland view taken with a large 8 x 10" format camera, whilst also emphasising the landscapes' surface in minute detail. Scrutiny - like that of the archaeologist - creates the potential for discovery and gives heightened significance to each fragment of the landscape surface. For the photographer and viewer, the act of looking is transformed into an act of investigation - a search for evidence and meaning.

Photographic portraits of the Tollund and Grauballe people (taken by The National Museum of Denmark's photographer Lennart Larsen in the 1950s), will also be shown alongside Vaughan's work. These photographs show in detail the two thousand year old preserved human bodies of ritual and human sacrifice.

The bog burial sites have captured the imagination of archaeologists, artists, filmmakers and poets worldwide, in particular, with the Irish poet Seamus Heaney whose publication, "Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996", includes many of his "bog poems" such as "Tollund Man, Grauballe Man, Kinship and Punishment."

This archaeological exhibition hopes to bring awareness to the Danish and British bog burial sites through understanding the mythology, sociology and history found in northern Europe and through the visual photographic records produced by Vaughan and Larsen.

"Opened Landscape: Lindow, Tollund, Grauballe" is supported by Arts Council, England.

Exhibition: 19 November 2004 - 15 January 2005
Opening hours: Tue, Thu, Fri 10am - 6pm; Wed 10am - 8pm; Sat 11am - 6pm
Gallery closed: Sun, Mon & Bank Holidays

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