Fragments from the Landsker line archive (2008)

Following the death of Rhys ap Tewdwr in 1093, Arnulf de Montgomery marched across Wales to set up a stronghold at Pembroke. This invasion began the Norman colonisation of South Pembrokeshire. Pembroke became the administrative centre and the frontier that pushed the native Welsh to the poorer lands of North Pembs and is now known as the Landsker line. This is a chain of Norman castles running across Pembrokeshire from St. Davids in its west to Amroth in its southeast corner.

The word Landsker seems to have been coined for this frontier as recently as 1938 by Margaret Davies. G. M. Awberry however, states that the word is not specific to this line but was in currency along the South Wales coast and is used in a fairly general sense to mean a boundary of some kind. Awberry tracks the use of landsker through landshare in Gower and the West-country back to its probable Anglo-Saxon origin land-scearu.

Fragments from the Landsker line archive is activated by my unauthorised taking of stones from these Norman Castles, this is the central focus of this exhibition. Hopefully the viewer will question my authority to take stones, and consider questions of ownership, land rights and the authorship of heritage and history. The authors of our heritage are taking sites originally scenes of land-grabs and massacres (atrocities still raging in the present day world), and repackaging this weight of history as popular culture e.g. tourism, postcards, tea towels.

Castles, these symbols of invasion, colonisation, oppression, control, death, have been etched into our collective consciousness as awe inspiring and romantic. I am using a local example of colonisation whilst realising that the phenomena is an experience of people worldwide. It is telling that we sympathise with say Native Americans but not so easily with the aboriginal people of the British Isles. I am not wishing to start a debate about nationalism, I am interested in a priori information being contested, unravelled and recognised in new ways.

Nothing has been created for this exhibition; all artefacts relating to the Landsker line have been found, bought, borrowed or stolen. Considerations to display are ones of authentic conventions specific to each type of artefact, e.g. postcards pinned to a corkboard.