Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bath, soil, an exciting exhibition and the reborn artist

Last Saturday, before the onset of the snow, I visited the wonderful Emma Bond and her lovely husband Tom in the beautiful city of Bath. Bath is an amazing place with lots of independent shops and restaurants, not to mention the amazing Botanical Gardens, Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.  However it was at the Victoria Art Gallery that I found the most amazing sculpture exhibition.
A long time ago, in almost another lifetime, I graduated with a degree in Fine Art. I've never lost my interest in art and I consider what I do, growing plants, to be just as creative as making art. Quietly I've watched to art world from afar and have always loved the colour and textures created by artists of all disciplines. So I was extremely excited when Emma dragged me out of the snow and into the Victoria Art Gallery to see an exhibition by the sculptor, Peter Burke. And it was incredible. The sculptures are made from soil from the area surrounding Peter's home in Bradford-upon-Avon in Somerset, bonded so it can be used as a medium for artwork. The first thing and the most amazing to me, was the  difference in the colour of the soil from different places.
The Cup Series

The above three images are identical in terms of the image and the only difference is the colour of the soil.
Radius in Chalk
The above image is made of chalk  from the Bradford-upon-Avon area. 
Whereas this image which is exactly the same in terms of it's design, is made from an iron rich clay type soil from a different part of the Bradford-upon-Avon area. Both are stunning images and yet they are quite different although the same, and this difference is created, essentially, by colour. 

But this set me to thinking. It isn't colour that changes these images, but soil. Soil, the most important thing that as gardeners we can have. Its the absolutely most important thing to us and we spend our days trying to improve what we have, adding organic matter, feed, minerals, to ensure that we have the best growing media for our plants. But what this exhibition showed me was that essentially, soil will always return to its natural state and that is the state it was in before man tried to change it for his own needs.

This intrigued the artist in me and made me think about how I could add on to this with a work or works of my own and this is what I came up with. I would like a soil sample from as many people as possible, enough to fill a 3"pot would be ideal. Just soil, as pure as you can find it. Each pot will have a seed placed into it and photographed every day and it will become an installation work, recorded photographically and documented here.

If you'd like to contribute or take part please feel free to contact me.

In other news I officially dislike snow immensely, particularly when all the leaves that had started to germinate for the 52 Week Salad Challenge turn to mush because of it! Enough said on that matter I feel but I promise my next post will be plant/gardening related!!


  1. There are veins of deep red soil up here. It always look a very good growing medium to me.
    At first glance I thought your post was going to be an Andy Goldsworthy piece. Equally interesting. Let me know if you decide to go ahead with the installation art, Sara.

  2. nice webby sara i need to get one of these :) scotty from hall barn