CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
AND THE NATURAL WORLD
Major arts contribution to the UN International Year of Soils 2015
Press Release 28 May 2014
The Soil Culture programme uses the arts to inspire a deeper public
understanding of the importance of soil - a resource on which the whole of
civilization depends but many take for granted.
Healthy soils are not only essential for the production of food but are a vital part
of our global ecosystem, acting as a carbon sink to reduce the impact of climate
change. Today, contamination, compaction, erosion, flooding and salinisation are increasingly
threatening soils around the world, and an appreciation of our soils is badly needed.
The arts can engage people in ways that science rarely does and we are delighted to have
already attracted over 270 artists from 21 countries, including Thailand, Ukraine and Russia, for
the first round of artist residencies taking place in the Devon, Somerset and Cornwall later this
The first three residencies have just been awarded to Marissa Lee Benedict (USA) working at the
Environment and Sustainability Institute/ University of Exeter in Penryn, Jonny Briggs (UK)
working at White Moose gallery in Barnstaple and Karen Guthrie (UK) at Hauser & Wirth
Somerset, described by the Guardian as the ‘next big thing in the art world’.
A native of Southern California, Marissa Lee Benedict is a sculptor, researcher, writer, explorer, teacher and avid amateur of many fields and disciplines. Motivated by a sense of critical wonder, Benedict’s artistic practice is an ongoing investigation into the complex, and ever evolving, relationship between humans and the material world. Rooted in research and experimentation, she is drawn to systems that allow equal space for planned action and uncontrollable reaction. Working with biological, chemical and physical processes, her projects range from growing algae under florescent lights to digging up geological core samples in the California desert.