The story behind Charnia

I was looking for a story to tell during my MA first year, the project proposal I submitted in early July 2019 had talked about other artists telling tales with lace, such as Jason Holroyd, Carol Quarini, William Hallam Pegg and Harry Cross designer of the ‘Battle of Britain’ lace panel.

Although I’ve lived in and around Nottingham for almost 25 years, I actually grew up in Leicestershire, an area rich in fossils. Contrary to my expectation of spending the summer downtime exploring my project, I spent 8 weeks driving back and forth to visit my mum in hospital, past the site of an important archaeological discovery.

Fossils on display in London’s Natural History Museum, Oct 2019

In 1956 a young fossil hunter called Tina Negus visited Charnwood forest and took a rubbing of a fossil she found in the pre-Cambrian rock. In the 1950s we believed that life began in the Cambrian era about 500 million years ago and before that there weren’t any animals at all. Tina showed the fossil rubbing to her teacher. She was told that she must have got it wrong – the rock is millions of years older than the fossil could possibly be. A short while later, another young fossil hunter called Roger Mason came across the same piece of rock and well, to cut a long story short, it was named Charnia Masoni after it’s finder.

Tina Negus image from the Trowelblazers website, supplied to them by Tina Negus

Read Tina’s story on the Trowelblazers website here, and see Roger Mason interviewed here

Would Tina’s words have been believed if she had been a boy? There are plenty of stories where girls and women are not believed, and I wanted to amplify this one example. I decided to use this story and it’s implications as inspiration for my project.