ARTISTS influenced by their links to archaeology are putting their work on show in a new exhibition.

The Inspired by the Past exhibition, at the Bingley Gallery includes work by artists who came to the subject not through art school, but following study and work in the field of archaeology.

Many have links with the pioneering School of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford, suggesting art and science can be fruitfully combined.

Ceramics have a central position in the exhibition at the Park Road gallery. “Most artists working in that media are well-aware of the legacy of pottery making that stretches back millennia into the past and are appreciative of the skills of their predecessors,” said gallery owner David Starley.

For potter Mike Copper, a researcher at the university studying prehistoric ceramic production in the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, firing ceramics provides a means of understanding the technology of a craft in its earliest, Neolithic, years.

Said David. “Mike’s most recent firings investigate the use of different fuels to heat primitive pit furnaces, including sheep dung. The vessels present a very different aesthetic to contemporary pottery. Much of their charm lies in their deceptive simplicity.”

Lis Holt allows her ceramic vessels to diverge considerably from the early Aegean art that inspires them. Among her influences are the times spent exploring dusty museums during holidays abroad.

“She keeps to the older technique of coil building - wheel throwing was a much later development - and produces beautifully elegant forms, decorated with glazes that are resonant of the early civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean,” said David.

Bradford graduate Clarke Avery uses archaeological knowledge to recreate past landscapes in oils or acrylics including Bronze age villages or seascapes with Viking ships battling the elements

Formerly a field archaeologist and archaeological curator Gavin Edwards understands how people in the past made best use of wood and also appreciated its beauty.

“Much of the timber he uses has past histories, whether as furniture veneers or humble pallets, but also bears the marks of the growing environment of the tree,” said David.

Amy Charlesworth, one of the exhibition’s few trained artists, works in oils in a hyperrealist style. Viking mythology is brought into focus with a dramatically painted raven, ‘Ode to Odin’, for which she expanded her skill range to craft a runically-inscribed wooden frame.

Geophysical surveyor Daniel Shiel draws on his career in archaeology and his childhood love of ruins. The processes of decay and the marginalisation of once important structures are central to his photographic images.

Landscape archaeologist Alison Deegan specialises in identifying archaeological features from aerial images.

“Alison’s understanding of the landscape as a sequence of layers formed over millennia is reflected in her artistic practice,” said David. “She uses lino cuts to express the structure of a landscape, either through bold, single-colour prints or building layers of colour and texture to create more complex and intricate images.”

For Laura McNicholas of Lancashire-based Nettleton Pottery, inspiration came from closer to home, in the form of textiles inherited from her great, great aunt, great grandmother and grandmother. Through her ceramics Laura tells their story and celebrates these strong and creative women’s lives.

David himself is a Bradford archaeological sciences graduate, who worked for many years as a field archaeologist and metalworking specialist, until his oil painting hobby took precedence.

His oil paintings often incorporate features from the past, such as the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle on Ilkley Moor.

“Both art and archaeology run deep within me,” he says. “‘We live in landscapes which, whether, urban or rural, show evidence of generations of our forebears. Reading the physical evidence of past human activity in our surroundings gives another dimension to our understanding of our environment and our place in it.”

The exhibition at The Bingley Gallery, Park Road, Bingley, runs to June 20. Gallery website: