In the Liminal Lands

“In the Liminal Lands” is a body of work developed during visits to the Caerlaverock coast during summer 2018. The hot dry summer created an atypical Caerlaverock experience filled with summer plants, rich in insect life but with the ponds drying up, cracked mud surfaces and drying grasses.

Sarah’s work has always been informed by her life-long interest in geology, landscape and the natural world. She has been researching archaeological sites and Pre-Christian cultures and their resonance in our rituals, values and beliefs today. Her current focus is on liminal places, exploring the ideas of uncertainty and the unknown, and transitions between phases of life or states of being. In the terminology of coastal science the creeks and saltmarsh of the Solway merse are liminal places. Sometimes flooded by sea water, sometimes dry land and creeks they hover between states with the rise and fall of the tides and pull of the moon. Archaeologists have found mesolithic footprints and fishing posts on similar salt marshlands in the Severn estuary, the saltmarsh environment offering rich sources of food for hunter gatherer societies. In making the work Sarah imagined a similar community here 6-8000 years ago. In Denmark a Mesolithic burial includes the remains of a baby cradled on a swan wing; a ritual burial. This made Sarah reflect on the swans of the Solway and the importance their sudden arrival must have held in prehistoric society, marking the seasons. Elsewhere along the Solway coast are many Neolithic cup and ring marked rocks. None are visible at Caerlaverock with its heavy blanket of silty sand and merse, but might there be archaeology under the mudflats? These ideas of possible past inhabitants of the Solway lands, their hunter gatherer lifestyles, talismanic objects, signs from nature, magical thinking and rituals drifted alongside the experiences of the sense of place, present day land use, birds and wildlife. From this a semi abstract series of artworks has emerged. Sarah’s approach has moved away from traditional printmaking of multiples towards a series of paintings. Each mark is made as an experiment and then followed by another and another. The art works combine printing techniques, painting and drawings using acrylic paint and inks, screen printing then directly painting and drawing into the image or wiping out areas before returning to print again.