The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.

Wendell Berry

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Natalie Taylor, our 2021/22 John Muir Fellowship artist, worked with us in the Dunbar community between August 2021 – August 2022, exploring the theme; ‘Is Soil alive?’

Natalies’ year long residency illuminated soil and its role in rebalancing the planet. Using high magnification microscopes at the ASCUS laboratory in Edinburgh to study and photograph soil organisms from collected soil samples, Natalie created paint with the soils and used the soil images seen through the lens as inspiration for her work. Natalie also worked with the local community in Dunbar to create other pieces of work all focused on highlighting the diversity of life found within soil and importance of maintaining healthy soils.

The first collaborative artwork, made during a series of free workshops in Dunbar was the Keepers of the Soil cape, a ceremonial cloak designed to be worn by different people as a symbol for protecting and celebrating soils. The cape is used for collecting significant soils, which have since become part of the soil collection, ‘For the Love of Soils – A People’s Collection

A series of different workshops and events exploring our relationship with soil happened throughout the year.  The residency culminated in an exhibition, Terra Infirma, in June 2022 at the Dunbar Town House Gallery. Parts of the exhibition then went on to be displayed at the Riverside Museum Glasgow and the World Congress of Soil Science in July and August 2022.



Click the links below to find out more about this project.