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anglesey, art, Art and Archaeology, Digital art, Neolithic, New media, Public Archaeology, robotics

Art & Archaeology at Bryn Celli Ddu: SPYGLASS

As we count down for the third season of the Bryn Celli Ddu landscape project, we catch up with Angela Davies, our artist in residence about her work on SPYGLASS and her upcoming residency:

Hi, I’m Angela and I’ve been artist in residence at the Bryn Celli Ddu landscape project for the last three years. I am an interdisciplinary artist whose work is informed by relationships with art, science, nature and technology.

Clockwork Constellation, Angela Davies

Clockwork Constellation, Angela Davies

I work across disciplines – sculpture, installation and performance, to create both intimate and large scale interactive light works. I often draw upon a hybrid of traditional disciplines alongside creative technologies – electronics, robotics, interactivity, coding and moving image. The use of these technologies translates the idea of communication and connectivity. Layering and light is used to cross boundaries between real and illusionary space. ‘Time, people, place’ is a theme that underpins the exploration of the residency at Bryn Celli Ddu.

Aims for the Residency

I was interested in further exploring some of the key concepts that I touched upon during the first residency at BCD in 2015.

Primarily, to speculate on ‘areas of light’ which connect to ‘patterns of distribution’ (Frances Lynch). I am interested in the structural and luminescence quality of the quartz along the passageway of the tomb, the relationship to light and the alignment of the sun that illuminates the passageway during the summer solstice. Furthermore, I have been considering the relationship of the Neolithic sites across Anglesey, which may have geographical connection to Bryn Celli Ddu.

These have been represented as constellation drawings. In terms of fulfilling personal and professional creative practice aims, the exploration of scale, process and sensory application is at all times deeply considered as methods to engage audiences in the Art & Archaeology collaboration. Additionally, I wanted to respond to the archaeologists’ discoveries at the time of the enquiry, to help inform and shape the creative response.

Constellations lenses

Many explorations and discoveries have driven the project forward. One of which is the deep fascination I have in creating constellation lenses to illuminate the ancient sites of Anglesey.

BCD Constellation I & II, Angela Davies

BCD Constellation I & II, Angela Davies

I engaged with traditional craft processes to create a series of lenses with ancient landscapes as constellations, mapped into the surface.

Patterns of Distribution, Angela Davies

Patterns of Distribution, Angela Davies

The images presented demonstrate explorations within the BCD chamber as ‘Patterns of Distribution’. The significance of the chamber and its position to the sun as it becomes illuminated during the solstice was a process I wanted to emulate.

I speculated upon the relationship between ancient technology and new technological processes I had been engaged in creating a complex light navigating system through the exploitation of robotic and interactive technologies (supported by Innovate UK and Arts Council England). I constructed a version of ‘SpyGlass’ within BCD. Presenting the robot as a light navigator to illuminate the chamber acted like a microscope, revealing the interior construction of the chamber and human activity of the past.

3d model of rock art panel 001 found during 2015 excavations

There was an interesting poetry between referencing the archaeologists’ discoveries of a dumbbell motif and a cluster of cup-marks, through the act of drawing with light, to illuminate the past from within the chamber.

Still image from SpyGlass video, Angela Davies

Still image from SpyGlass video, Angela Davies


SpyGlass explores light as vision and movement, to heighten the viewers’ perceptual awareness. The BCD Constellation lens was presented on the SpyGlass sculpture and projected within the chamber. As the light navigated and illuminated the past landscapes, the light unfolded and wrapped itself around the chamber to reveal the hidden intricacies of the past. It represents an understanding of time and space, to both its story and time as a navigation system.


The reflections on time: human engagement and ceremony were explored in 2015. For this second stage of the residency, the reverence of light and the relationship with technology became a significant exploration alongside the mapping of physical and spiritual landscape as connections through time. For part 3 of the BCD Residency, my aspiration is to synthesis the explorations to consider how I can present a kinetic time-piece to convey the conceptual nature of quartz as a material of time, utilsing the bespoke technologies that I have devised.

Link to SpyGlass 2016

Angela Davies

About FfionR

I’m Ffion, Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University and Heritage and Arts Manager for Cadw, the historic environment service for the Welsh Government. At Cadw, my role is to oversee projects that link heritage with the arts, inspire new ways of engaging people with our built environment and to link people with their local heritage and archaeology.


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Manchester Metropolitan University

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