In 2016 and 2017 nine museums and archaeological sites took part in Hadrian's Cavalry art project. Lead artist Karen MacDougall kept a diary. Below are her thoughts about a textile project for Segedunum Roman Fort.
Project: Here Come the Cavalry - Segedunum
"Virginia Wilkinson from Tyne and Wear Museums showed me round Segedunum. This is the official start, or finish, to Hadrian's Wall. The museum wished to have a legacy artwork to display at the entrance of their top floor education suite. However I spotted a fantastic vertical blue rectangle rising from the shop to the cafe. I explained that I could design a textile hanging which could be cut into smaller pieces later. Allowing for a blue border surround, the artwork would be around four metres long.
A different sort of chainmail letter
Percy Main School were excited to be involved with making and then printing individual Roman letters spelling Segedunum. Each letter was to be rotated to make it look like a piece of chainmail in the museum. We also decided to make three huge chamfrons (horses' head armour) decorated with embossed metal foil.
The museum piloted some of their proposed Cavalry schools activities on the school's museum visit. I set them looking at Roman lettering. They also trained as cavalry soldiers with a re-enactor who produced a stable of 30 hobby horses and cavalry uniforms from a large canvas bag! The youngsters loved dressing up.
Portfolios and printing
I spent an afternoon teaching students embossing skills using metal foil, making sample pieces based on letters. Back at school everyone made a printing block, practiced printing and designed a chamfron, picking the best bits to put on their group chamfron. All the samples and sketches went into their Arts Award portfolios.
A legacy of learning
Virginia and I assembled the hanging in Segedunum. This involved a member of staff going on a scaffolding tower course. I think it may now be up for some time!
The project lives on. This is not just through the artwork but also in the education team using metal foil embossing in their schools workshops. This Continued Professional Development is yet another example of cross-fertilisation and the great learning generated by the Hadrian's Cavalry project."
- By artist Karen MacDougall
Karen's haiku reflecting on the project
Letter by letter printing
Hadrian’s Cavalry mail.
More art projects
Get a flavour of the other projects in Diary of a Hadrian's Cavalry Artist.