Alchemy of Soil, 2015

 

Natalie Taylor

This large painting on paper is entirely created using pigments made of soils collected from East Lothian.

2015 was the UN International Year of Soils, and as part of that, North Light Arts offered a micro residency in Dunbar to an artist interested in this field.  My subsequent two week research and development period led me to investigate the various soils found around East Lothian, and look at more closely at the different farming practices being used to cultivate the land. I found a sharp difference in soil husbandry, and methodology, from at one extreme, the large scale potato farmer, producing potatoes with chemical fertilisers for commercial crisps, and at the other, a small scale organic farm which had been in use as an organic farm almost continuously for several hundred years. 

I was keen to put my findings and other readings into visual form rather than into scientific output format. Eventually I hit upon the idea of creating a soil food web so that viewers can see all the links between micro fungi, and micro bacteria, nurtured only with organic methods, right through to small insects, and mammals, and our own food production and distribution systems.

The Kalachakra Mandala, an ancient Tibetan Buddhist diagram depicting relationships between time and cycles of life, and the movements and cycles of planets seemed like a good image to reference as it offered a system of relationships easy to change for my purposes.

The dramatic dripping of a third of the pigment/soil off the page refers to the new figures released in 2015 that between 30-40% of global soils are depleted so much that they are unusable for the cultivation of food. We are in danger of corrupting the very earth beneath our feet which provides us with vital food supplies.

This painting is available in Giclee digital printed format at the size of 75cm x 75cm. Please contact me for more information.