Luck & Limen


Chicken wire, handmade paper pulp, green faux fur, animal bones, ancient Roman tesserae, ancient Roman oyster shells, cob sculptures by workshop participants, velvet, salt, door matting, paint, glitter.
Exhibited at the Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery. 2021

In ‘Luck and Limen’ I am exploring the idea of the threshold as a magical space that allows us to pass from one reality to another. The word ‘limen’ means a threshold – either a physical one such as a doorway or a sensory point at which something becomes tangible enough to be experienced or perceived.
For this exhibition I have drawn on my experience of working with local archaeology team DROP (Discover Roman Otford Project) to make these new sculptures. In 2019 and 2020 I participated in their dig of an expansive Roman Villa in the village of Otford, three miles from where the work was shown. The tiny floor tiles (tesserae) that you see in hollows and alcoves in the sculptures were unearthed in this dig and are from the floors of this villa. They are worn smooth on one side from the passage of feet over many years.
The Romans had a specific god responsible for the threshold – Limentinus, as well as the gods Janus, Forculus and goddess Cardea assigned to the doorway and its components. As a people they had an acute sense of the symbolic significance of the doorway, and often the threshold would double as an altar of sorts, becoming central to household rites and religious activities.
Both the larger sculptures in the space and the wall-pieces reference entrances. The shape of the wall-pieces is like that of an arched doorway or a window, with curved shapes in red and gold velvet and door matting passing across the glittering black space like moon phases. The earthy, ginger coloured cob sculptures made by participants are all inspired by objects from their domestic environment. Together these give a sense of the beauty and vitality of the day-to-day.
The larger, freestanding sculptures are based on the forms of the tesserae themselves – abstracted and oversized, like a dream version of the tiny mosaic tiles. The green fur that appears to sprout from them like grass alludes to the imaginative place that archaeology occupies in our consciousness, an awareness of the incredible richness of our history quietly waiting for discovery underneath the ground we walk on.