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Celebrating the UN International Year of Soils in Bristol, European Green Capital 2015

The Soil Culture programme uses the arts to inspire a deeper public understanding of the importance of our soil, whose health is essential for the production of food and is a vital part of our global eco-system. Today, our soils are increasingly under threat on a number of fronts, including contamination,  erosion and compaction and this appreciation is greatly needed.

Since last Summer, the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) has supported twelve artist residencies with different hosts across the South West and at the Royal Botanic Gardens, together with a commission for a roof garden at a new Primary School in Bristol. Nine of these residencies  were advertised Internationally, attracting 627 applications from 25 different countries; demonstrating the increasing tendency for artists to engage with environmental issues.

From 4 July to 26 August, an exhibition 'Soil Culture: Young Shoots', based on these artists' research findings and work, will be shown at the Create Centre, Bristol's own flagship environmental centre in the Cumberland Basin. This will be accompanied by a specially commissioned film by Zoe Young. It will then tour for a year to 6 venues in the region including Hauser and Wirth Somerset and the Eden Project.

Celebrations begin for uks first european green capital. Image credit: Chris Bahn

'Soil Culture at Create' will be opened by gardener Alys Fowler on 4 July and will also present a second exhibition 'Dirt Dialogues' organised by Soilarts in Berlin, and an ambitious programme of 'Soil Saturdays and Food Happenings' led by Touchstone collaborations who will be undertaking their own residency hosted by the Blue Finger Alliance.

‘Soil is the source of all life. Sadly, many people in the world are losing their connection with the soil. Soil Culture at create is a timely celebration to remind the world that we are all children of the living soil.’ Satish Kumar, Resurgence and Ecologist magazine, Schumacher College

In September, a final phase of the programme will begin when the exhibition 'Soil Culture: Deep Roots' opens at Falmouth Art Gallery, showing more established International artists including Paolo Barrile, Mel Chin, herman de vries, Richard Long, Ana Mendieta and Claire Pentecost and touring to Peninsula Arts, Plymouth in the New Year. A comprehensive publication will be produced, bringing together all phases of 'Soil Culture'.


Soil Culture is a partnership between CCANW and Falmouth University and is  supported by Arts Council England. A programme of activities on the natural and cultural heritage of South West soils is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Individual residencies and exhibitions are supported by their hosts, venues and the British Society of Soil Science. 'Soil Culture at Create' is supported by Triodos Bank, Soil Association, Biodynamic Association and N3 design.

Helen Browning, Clive Adams, Sarah Ciurysek and Tim Field. Daylesford Organic Farm Summer Festival. Image credit: Zoe Young.

“We are delighted that CCANW have chosen to highlight the wonder, fragility and plight of our soils through their new arts programme. We feel that culture should be at the heart of agriculture and this programme will be a very effective way of engaging people with this rather scientific subject.” - Helen Browning, CEO, Soil Association

Lottery Funded

CCANW is pleased to acknowledge support for its 2014-5 development programme from Arts Council England, South West Water, South West Soils and The University of Exeter

Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World CIC

Registered in England 4141506.

Directors: Clive Adams FRSA, Dr Daro Montag

Staff: Sally Lai, residency coordinator, Martyn Windsor, exhibition coordinator, Kay Walker, finance officer

Advisory Panel: Tristram Besterman, chair, Phil Collins, Charlotte Rathbone, Jem Southam, Peter Young, Rick Bond, Dave Pritchard, Emma Rothwell, Henrietta Vercoe, William Lana