Exhibition 52: Samantha Gray. Title: Dowsing at Brodgar, Orkney. Monoprint, Sketchbooks and Dowsing Rods
Samantha says: In 2022 I gained financial support through Creative Scotland’s VACMA fund. This allowed me to pursue a project which involved me using dowsing rods at the archaeological sites of the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and the Neolithic burial cairn Maeshowe.
The dowsing activity was recorded by drone which created wonderful images. During the activity at the sites, I had helpers who laid stones (gathered from Skaill beach near Skara Brae) where the dowsing rods crossed, creating a grid of sorts. These lines of connection at each of the sites create an unseen view of the landscape. But what do they represent? Energy of water, remnants of the Neolithic people who walked there, or ley lines? Whatever the reason, these sites are connected.
I am fascinated by these prehistoric sites, the lines they make on the landscape, the natural elements, and the feelings that the sites invoke. Using line and being influenced by maps, archaeological site plans and surveys, I express my own lines of connection to the sites through drawing and print.
My monoprints focus on the ditch shapes around the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, a feature on the landscape not instantly visible. I wanted to remove the obvious focus from the stones to consider the energy of the land around them. During a dowsing activity I tracked my movements and this was the inspiration for the additional silvery design. The concertina sketchbooks were created when returning from a visit to the sites, using inks and Ness of Brodgar spoil heap dirt. They express my feelings while dowsing and my connection to the land and the energy present there.
Samantha is a mixed media artist and printmaker from Orkney. Her main inspiration is the archaeological sites within the parish of Stenness. UNESCO named this area the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. Samantha graduated from Orkney College in 2019 with an Honours Degree in Fine Art, and completed a Masters module in Art & Archaeology in 2020. She is a member of the Orkney Archaeology Society.