Frances Law

Relics from an Anthropocene Age
Art and Archaeology in Coupar Angus Burn

burn_finds (33K) Coupar_Angus_burn_finds_2 (19K) in_the_burn_2 (45K) joe_and_alan (21K) ashleigh (25K) pop_up_museum (72K) spoons (24K)
Coupar Angus

May - August 2016

This community engaged project aimed to capture the distinctiveness and identity of the small, Perthshire town of Coupar Angus. Through the study of the extraordinary variety of remains which lie beneath the waters of Coupar Burn, which runs through the centre of the town and has been used as a dumping ground for decades, a unique social history of the town and its people emerged. The 'archaeological investigation' inspired young and old members of the community dressed in waders to descend into the Burn with buckets and litter pickers in the hope of finding treasure.

Children's toys, bottles from various eras, spoons, bowls, cups, mobile phones, clay pipes, bolts and fixings from the railway days surfaced from the silt. The hoard resembled a strange cabinet of curiosities. Local people came to observe, fascinated by what had come out of the Burn. The conversations were captivating. A kitchen knife became a murder weapon, a string of beads tossed into the burn after a lovers tiff. It was interesting to observe what some of the items meant to people and to see how memory and identity are often inextricably linked. In every object there was a story with different meanings for different people however, there was also a commonality, one which spoke of the same preoccupations which characterise and define who we are.

The finds came together in a pop up museum in Coupar Angus a few weeks later. The name 'Anthropocene Museum' was chosen to define the human activity present in the Burn. The metal, concrete and plastic souvenirs left behind surviving as a memento of the Anthropocene Age.

The project also aimed to impact at a local level and to bring out new ways of seeing the world by challenging assumptions and providing new and different forms of experience promoting the idea that humans are driving far reaching changes to the life supporting infrastructure of the planet and not merely passive observers.

Relics from an Anthropocene Age.pdf

© 2016 Frances Law