Soil Culture

Deep Roots 2015-16, funding crisis and the move to Dartington

In June 2015 ACE rejected our application for £29,600 to fund the second stage of Soil Culture: Deep Roots over a 17 month period. The application was supported by match funding of £28,553 and support in kind of £52,780. This would have supported the exhibition Deep Roots at its two showings at Falmouth Art Gallery and Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University, and the publication.

This rejection resulted in a crisis which put this stage in jeopardy and led to CCANW having to give up its offices at the Innovation Centre and move to Dartington in November. In its appraisal, the application scored strongly in every area, but failed because it only ‘met’ requirements over public engagement; a judgement that we found very hard to accept.

Fortunately, thanks to the resolute support of our gallery partners in Falmouth and Plymouth, our staff and the artists themselves, a way forward was found. This involved cutting CCANW’s staff costs and overheads from £15,653 to a bare £2,000 and making substantial savings to transportation (down from £17,000 to just under £9,500) and to the mounting of the exhibition.

This finally resulted in a balanced budget of around £23,000, with Falmouth Art Gallery contributing £15,000 and Peninsula Arts £5,000. Part of the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£2,553) also paid for specific activities and other income came from the re-sale of exhibition frames. It was agreed that Falmouth and Peninsula Arts paid directly for specific costs; this saved CCANW’s administrative costs, and explains why the accounts for Deep Roots are not included in our annual financial statements.

The exhibition Deep Roots focussed on groups of work by six established International artists who had engaged with soils for many years: Paolo Barrile, Mel Chin, herman de vries, Richard Long, Ana Mendieta and Claire Pentecost. These were shown alongside individual works by seven mid-career British artists which explored something of the science behind soils: Chris Drury, Andy Goldsworthy, Sandra Masterson, Daro Montag, David Nash, Peter Ward and Adam White. This was first shown at Falmouth Art Gallery 19 September to 21 November 2015.

Artist Peter Ward also delivered workshops at a Soil Association Symposium in 2013 and at the Dartington Food Fair in 2015. In 2023, Books published an important monograph on his work ‘expressions of an intimate ecology’.

The production of the Soil Culture publication was made during the Falmouth showing and launched to coincide with the second showing at Peninsula Arts 15 January to 19 March 2016. Comprehensive photographs of the work in Deep Roots at Falmouth are included in the Soil Culture publication pp.33-56

General view of Deep Roots exhibition at Peninsula Arts. Photo Martyn Windsor.

CCANW was supported in its publication, expertly designed by Robin Hawes, by 89 pre-publication subscribers, Falmouth Art Gallery and Gaia Project Press. It cost around £5,500, of which £3,500 was raised from subscriptions, with a retail price of £15.

Clive introducing work by Mel Chin to a group including George Monbiot. Photo Martyn Windsor.
Clive introducing work by Mel Chin to a group including George Monbiot. Photo Martyn Windsor.


Despite 2015 being designated as the International Year of Soils by the United Nations (UN), we were shocked at the lack of financial support for Soil Culture from the UN, and from Government agencies, including Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It was hoped that the UK’s hosting of the World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow in 2022 would provide a better opportunity for people to become engaged through the arts in soils issues; CCANW saw Soil Culture as being ‘unfinished business’. (See Our Living Soil).

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