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Major UK arts contribution to the UN International Year of Soils 2015

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The Soil Culture programme uses the arts to inspire a deeper public understanding of the importance of soil – a resource on which the whole of civilization depends but many take for granted.

Healthy soils are not only essential for the production of food but are a vital part of our global eco-system, acting as a carbon sink to reduce the impact of climate change. Today, soils around the world are increasingly being threatened by compaction, contamination, erosion, flooding and salinisation, and an appreciation of our soils is greatly needed.

Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) and Falmouth University will deliver soil Culture in phases. The first involved research led by the University, funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research council, and this culminated in a Forum at Falmouth which brought together over 90 artists, writers and environmentalists earlier in July.

In the lead up to and coinciding with the United Nations International Year of Soils 2015 CCANW is organising residencies aimed at encouraging an exploration of the importance of soils. The arts can engage people in ways that science rarely does and we are delighted to have already attracted over 456 applications from around the world for the first 5 residencies. Taking place across the South West of the UK as well as at a number of key organisations across the field, the residencies will not only provide dedicated time for experimentation, research and the development of new work but also unparalleled access to facilities, expertise and working contexts.

The selected artists for the first residencies are Marissa Benedict (USA) working at the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Karen Guthrie (UK) at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Jonny Briggs (UK) at White Moose in Barnstaple, Debra Solomon (USA/NL) at Schumacher College, Dartington and Anton Burdakov (UK/UA/DE) at the Eden Project.

CCANW will be inviting applications for the third round of residencies in the autumn 2014. They will take place at the following organisations: Bristol European Green Capital, Geography Department, University of Exeter, Royal Botanic Gardens, Peninsula Arts, University of Plymouth, Daylesford Organic Farm.

From May 2015 – September 2016, an exhibition of the results of the residencies will then tour to eight galleries in the region, including the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton, Create Centre in Bristol and spaces run by most residency hosts. This phase is substantially supported by Arts Council England.

The final phase involves a major exhibition of work by established international artists whose work has engaged with soils, sometimes over several decades. This will be launched in September 2015 at Falmouth Art Gallery before going on to Peninsula Arts at the University of Plymouth in the following year.

For the PDF of Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World’s Press Release, please click here

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