We chat to our writer in residence Christine Finn. | The Roman Baths

We chat to our writer in residence Christine Finn.

Artist, journalist and creative archaeologist Christine Finn has been on site all week engaging with visitors about Jacquetta Hawkes prolific writer about British Archaeology.

14 August 2019

We asked Christine Finn to tell us a bit about herself: 

Tell us a bit about your job including the favourite thing about the work you do?  

I wear several hats - artist, journalist and creative archaeologist  - I came up with the last description as way to describe using archaeology practice in my art-making. There are lots of overlaps with reporting, too.

How did you get the job? What was your career path, that lead to you to the job?

I grew up in Jersey and Deal, Kent so always around archaeology. I wanted to go to art collegel, but left school at 17 to be a reporter on my local newspaper, and I ended up doing freelance shifts in Fleet St and then reporting and producing regional TV in Kent. I was awarded a Reuter Fellowship to Oxford and had free rein to to go lectures; among them, Barry Cunliffe’s in the Institute of Archaeology. Two years later I was back as an undergrad in Arch and Anth, continued to a doctorate on Archaeogy and the poetry of Yeats and Heaney, lectured a bit. Then another curve-ball when I ended up in America, writing a book on the dotcom boom and bust through the eyes of an archaeologist. That brought me back into news reporting, and I have made several radio documentaries for BBC R4 and R3. I also contribute to “From Our own Correspondent” and “From Our Home Correspondent” and digital and print media, including the Sunday Times. finally returned to art with the Slade Summer School in 2006, and since then have exhibited in the UK - London, Kent, Yorkshire Sculpture Park - America and Italy. My art is usually site-specific and inspired by news events, and change-over-time. So that’s how it all combines. My performative writing is really a nod to the newsrooms I have loved.
What are you working on currently? Several projects - I turn up the heat when the deadline approaches! The biography of Jacquetta Hawkes is a very long term work; but I am also working on artworks and writing in response to “home” and others on political changes which are immediate and enable me to respond to events, often in other parts of the world.  If they are transitory works, they then exist as photography and other documentation. And I often return to work after a time, or to relocate it.

What event or exhibition are you excited about at the moment? 

I am delighted to be able to work inside the Roman Baths as writer-in-residence! It is a privilege to have time to observe and listen to visitors as they pass through. The original objective was to work on the Jacquetta Hawkes biography only, but the reporter in me is far too curious, and it has been fascinating to see the engagement from my desk at the Temple Pediment. It has been good to talk with people about the biography project and relate Jacquetta’s passion for public engagement with the past  to how the Roman Baths receives visitors today. There is the same emphasis on using the imagination, and people bringing their own past to the journey through the Baths; each experience will be very different, as mine is too.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Not so much a hobby, but I love being beside, on, and in, water! Being a Channel Islander, then spending many years on the coast in east Kent, I gravitate to the sea at any opportunity. I am in my element, literally: swimming, beach-combing, sea-foraging, taking ferry rides... My father’s family were Irish fishermen, and my maternal grandfather was a Colonial officer who spent much of his career on ships travelling to and from India and Africa. I am in awe of early navigators, explorers, and map-makers. And if not the sea then natural waters - springs, lakes, rivers, mineral spas...from random mud baths beside a road in Umbria, to hot springs in New Mexico, and Japan. I have just paid my first visit to the Thermae baths, here in Bath, a real treat to experience baths ancient and modern, and that same water source over time!