Matter of the manor: the life and death of a timber joist

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Conservation practice, as in architecture, uses a particular set of representational conventions and language which pay attention to a building’s material properties. It uses dry descriptions which avoid any form of emotional engagement. This paper examines the ways in which subjective experiences, emotions and affect can be represented in historic and architectural records through the form of the artists’ book and how in particular the book acts as a means of investigating space through its materiality, gesture and performativity.

This paper draws on New Materialist thinking, through what things do rather than what they are. Feminist writing practices, photographic documentation and LiDar scans are used to create an archaeology of the present through the material mapping of a timber joist from a 16th-century manor house. The timber connects spatially and temporally to the house; it carries traces of its own making, its jointing and bringing forth into construction through its handling and makers’ marks. Its material properties, its propensity to decay, the ongoing work of natural, biological processes, and its shaping by past and ongoing human activities and encounters, allow it to be conceptualised as an active agent in affective relations.

Through a short film the work explores the ruination of the house, its decaying presence, the gestures and actions of the community that care for it and beetle larvae that are transforming it to dust. It develops poeticized representations which reveal human and nonhuman actants performing uncertain, unstable trajectories for the future making and unmaking of the Manor.


Conference41st Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference
Abbreviated titleTAG 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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