Sarah Caputo

Project GRTF994135

Artist Sarah Caputo spent the week of 21st January 2019 on project GRTF994135, laying out finds from a metre cube test pit from her garden. The project began as an experiment, using the gallery while it was closed, just to see what the finds would look like. It turned out to be beautiful and fascinating. So much interest and variety from earth, stones, the ordinary rubbish of ages.

A visit to Norwich Castle had originally resulted in a discussion about metre cube test pits with an archaeologist who was studying the finds around Caistor Roman camp. She decided to apply these methods of investigation to her own garden. Instead of just exploring/recording/cataloguing what was above ground she would investigate below ground as well.

Sarah’s first arrangement of sorted finds, fresh from the soil

She had no expectations of what she would find but was fascinated by the idea of taking out a metre cube from below (seemingly so solid and dense) and putting it above ground in the airy spacious atmosphere. She liked the apparent pointlessness of it and chose to treat it like a formal archaeological investigation: sieving all the soil, recording what she found at each level, taking flotations and cataloguing the structure of the ground beneath her feet.

Flotation practice

In the first few centimetres, amongst the scattered objects and materials that she recognised as her own, there was evidence of the mundane rubbish of others- a sense of banal everyday history was intense. Ordinary people going about ordinary lives. Further down it felt primeval to create an earth lined, cool, damp geometric space where she could sit and stare at the changing layers of colour, follow roots and discover deposits of stone, loam and conglomerate not disturbed since they were laid down thousands of years before.

In the water drenched base she found clay to fire – here was the very stuff she had been using in her studio for so long- a completed circle.

The clean space of the gallery enabled the artist to lay out her finds in various different trial displays, so she could examine the finds, their types and how they could be arranged systematically, historically, aesthetically.

For her final arrangement she combined a slide show of the process with a wheel-diagram-like arrangement of the finds. It gave them beauty and importance – a sense of order from the randomness of their origins.