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International artists come together to celebrate Soils in SW exhibition

The work of six international artists will be exhibited together for the first time in the exhibition Soil Culture: Deep Roots, the culmination of a three-year project initiated by the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW).

The exhibition, which opens at Falmouth Art Gallery 19 September to 21 November before moving to Peninsula Arts in Plymouth next year, features works by Paulo BarrileMel Chinherman de vriesRichard LongAna Mendieta and Claire Pentecost.  It is a significant part of the UK contribution to the United Nations International Year of Soils.

The unique range of artworks on display includes previously unseen work by Mel Chin, who uses plants to extract heavy metals from contaminated land and work by Claire Pentecost, who has refashioned soil into the shapes of gold ingots to reflect its true worth.

Seven other British artists; Chris DruryAndy GoldsworthySandra MastersonDaro MontagDavid NashPeter Ward and Adam White will also show individual works linked to displays and activities which explore the science behind soils.

The Soil Culture programme, supported by a £49,000 award through Grants for the arts, uses the arts to inspire a deeper understanding of the importance of our soils, a resource on which the whole of civilisation depends. 

Healthy soils are essential for the production of food, fibres and timber, they filter our water and protect us from flooding and are a vital part of our global ecosystem. Today, however, soils are increasingly being threatened by poor management and short-termism, resulting in compaction, contamination and a loss of natural fertility. In the South West alone, 38% of its soils have already been significantly degraded.

CCANW is a not-for-profit organisation exploring new understandings of our place within nature through the arts.  They deliver programmes and projects through partnership work from the organisation's base at the University of Exeter.

Following an initial research phase, CCANW has supported 12 Soil Culture artist residencies with different hosts across the south west and at Kew, and a commission in Bristol.

The nine residencies that were advertised garnered 655 applications from 39 different countries, a strong indication of the increasing number of artists engaging with environmental issues globally.

Soil Culture: Deep Roots runs from 19 September to 21 November at Falmouth Art Gallery and from 16 January to 27 February 2016 at Peninsula Arts.  For more information go to


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