Site-specific film installation explores Brighton’s Neolithic Whitehawk Hill

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WHITE HAWK HILL by Catlin Easterby and Simon Pascoe (Red Earth) and Anna Lucas with abandofbrothers

 

Brighton & Hove Museum, March 8 – April 10 2016

 

This spring Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will exhibit a site-specific film made on Brighton’s Whitehawk Hill, one of the UK’s oldest Neolithic sites which is just beginning to gain recognition.

WHITE HAWK HILL, a new work by environmental artists Red Earth and filmmaker Anna Lucas, is a three-screen installation filmed over 12 months which evokes this forgotten hinterland and the people experiencing it, both today and in the prehistoric past.

It was made in partnership with abandofbrothers, the rites of passage mentoring charity for young men founded in Whitehawk, and local archaeologist Matt Pope, who grew up exploring Whitehawk Hill.

Red Earth’s Simon Pascoe said: “On the hill lie traces of an ancient ritual monument known as Whitehawk Camp, which is older than Stonehenge. Now dominated by a mobile phone mast and cut through by a road and Brighton Racecourse, 5,500 years ago this Neolithic enclosure was a communal focus for gatherings, feasting and burial.”

 

Red Earth’s Caitlin Easterby continued: “Imagine four huge white chalk walls encircling the summit of the hill – in low light some of these earthworks are still clearly visible. Excavations in the early 20th century revealed pottery, flint tools, animal bones and carved chalk, but it’s the human burials that bring our ancestors closest to us: a 40-year-old man, a young boy, and two young women in their twenties. One of the women was buried with her unborn baby, a carved chalk pendant and fossilised sea urchins laid by her side; these are poignant personal details echoing across 5000 years to touch our imagination.”

The team recorded the hill through the changing seasons for a year, running events with the abandofbrothers community and exploring the hill’s neolithic past as a place for gatherings, rituals and feasting.

Simon Pascoe said: “Working with abandofbrothers was central to the film’s concept. Life for a 20-year-old in Neolithic times would have been very different to young people’s experience today – average life expectancy was around 30 and the young men and women who gathered here would have been skilled and respected members of their community. In contrast, a 20-year-old in today’s society can feel alienated and marginalised, excluded rather than included. With abandofbrothers we wanted to explore this contrast, and give young people the chance to make a personal connection with the past.”

Caitlin Easterby sums up: “WHITE HAWK HILL pays homage to thousands of years of uninterrupted human interaction with this extraordinary place, connecting archaeology, myth and contemporary life to reveal a landscape shared by two communities over 5000 years apart”.

– ENDS –

 

WHITE HAWK HILL

A film installation

Catlin Easterby and Simon Pascoe (Red Earth) and Anna Lucas

with abandofbrothers

South Balcony Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

March 8 – April 10 2016

http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/what-to-see/coming-soon/white-hawk-hill/

For further information please contact Jo Nightingale on jo.nightingale@brighton-hove.gov.uk or + 44 (0)1273 296718.  Please note that I work Mon, Tues and Thurs only – for urgent enquiries in my absence please contact museums.marketing@brighton-hove.gov.uk or 03000 290906.

 

Notes for Editors

 

Artists

  • Caitlin Easterby, Simon Pascoe (Red Earth); Anna Lucas
  • Music Dirk Campbell; additional camera Simon Hipkins

 

Participants

  • The men and families from abandofbrothers
  • Dr Matt Pope (UCL), Andy Maxted (Curator Brighton Museum & Art Gallery), Paola Ponce (ASE)
  • Rosie Harding, Tanushka Marah, Orlando Tyr
  • The people of Whitehawk Hill

 

About WHITE HAWK HILL

 

WHITE HAWK HILL was created in collaboration with abandofbrothers, a ground-breaking rites of passage based mentoring charity for young men established in Whitehawk, and UCL archaeologist Dr. Matt Pope.

 

It was made in association with CAA/UCL’s Dig Whitehawk programme, and Red Earth received support from local archaeologists based at Archeology South East, with help from Paul Gorringe from Brighton and Hove Ranger Services, Donna Close, ex-Brighton and Hove arts officer, and the Brighton Archaeology Group.

 

WHITE HAWK HILL is funded by Arts Council England, One Planet Living, and the Centre for Applied Archaeology (UCL) through the Heritage Lottery Fund, with support from Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, and De Montfort University.

 

About Whitehawk Camp

Whitehawk Camp is situated on Whitehawk Hill, a portion of chalk downland on the east of Brighton overlooking the coastal plain, and rising above the Whitehawk Estate.  It is a world-class heritage site, a rare type of ritual monument and of considerable national importance.

Whitehawk Camp is the second largest Neolithic causewayed enclosure in Britain and, at 5,500 year-old (predating Stonehenge by around 500 years), one of the oldest Neolithic sites in the country – and yet it is only just beginning to gain recognition. At one time an important strategic meeting point for the local community and visible for miles, it is now a hidden and broken landscape, divided by a road, a racecourse and a housing estate.

The monument comprises four concentric rings of ditches, broken up by numerous causeways. Its survival is remarkable: it is now surrounded by the city and development has crept up to its edges. Despite neglect over recent decades earthworks are still visible on parts of the monument.

From the available archaeological evidence of human occupation, including multitudes of pottery shards, flint tools and intriguing human burials, activity at Whitehawk Camp commenced around 3650BC. The inhabitants of the camp were probably using it periodically, to meet and carry out ritual activities including feasts and ceremonies.

Causewayed enclosures like Whitehawk lie on the historic boundary between hunter/gathering and farming-based lifestyles, and therefore represent one of the most significant cultural transitions in human history.

About Red Earth

Red Earth create site-specific work in, and in response to the landscape: installations, performances and participatory events exploring our natural and cultural heritage, transforming our understanding of the places where we live

Led by artists and co-directors Caitlin Easterby and Simon Pascoe Red Earth have produced work in Europe, Java, Japan and Mongolia. Projects have explored the effects of climate change and our complex relationship with geological, archaeological, ecological and cultural landscapes.

Red Earth events amplify and resonate with the natural landscape, immersing the audience in its hidden terrain, engaging the public in the creative process. They work collaboratively with artists and specialists in the fields of geology, ecology, history and archaeology, disciplines which ultimately help us understand how, why and who we are now.

www.redearth.co.uk

About Anna Lucas

Anna Lucas is a London-based artist predominantly known for her work film and video. She also makes drawings and still images. Her practice engages and develops from observations of social networks and individuals in response to specific geographic and architectural locations. Underlying these themes the work also refers to the processes of filmmaking and the materiality of film itself. She is interested in the camera as a research tool and with the simultaneous engagement and detachment that occurs in the moment of looking through a lens.

http://annalucas.co.uk

About abandofbrothers

abandofbrothers is a charity established by men committed to positive social change. Central to their work are experiences that have come to be termed ‘rites of passage’.

 

abandofbrothers.org.uk