Butler Gallery is delighted to announce that Eileen Hutton has been commissioned for the gallery’s 2021 Soil Project Residency. The Soil Project is an annual invited artist’s commission that supports artists to create participatory work that engages the public to connect with the natural world around us and beneath our feet. As galleries and museums increasingly address social issues affecting our communities, environmental and ecological concerns are key priorities for the 21st century.
When I first undertook the Soil Project Residency, the country was still in a phase of 5K travel restrictions. In order to develop a participatory project that prioritized direct engagement with soil, albeit remotely, I devised a postal art project. Packages containing a glass petri dish, detailed instructions for how to gather, sense and identify local soils as well as a copy of the General Soil Map of Ireland were sent to over 100 people from around the island. From this collective mapping process, I have created a series of experiments in soil chromatography to represent each gathered soil sample. This alternative photography process creates a ‘soil portrait’ on light sensitive filter paper that is both formally beautiful and a useful way to assess the soil for organic matter, biological diversity, minerals and humus. The individual chromatograms will be installed as part of a large scale, material soil map.
The archive of the postal art component of this project will also be displayed alongside additional research phases of the residency that focused on fungi and earthworms as essential biota that contribute to the formation, maintenance and restoration of high quality, indispensable soils.
The full artist’s statement is available to read here.
Past Soil Project Residencies:
In 2020, Butler Gallery invited Monkeyshine to work with us on The Soil Project. Monkeyshine presented Myth Maker for the first time; an immersive live arts experience, at Evans’ Home over a weekend in September 2020. 30 people took part in this event, in family sized groups. Myth Maker invited audiences to consider themselves as story tellers, connect to the world, make rhythms with their bodies, commune with our ancestors and explore the power of touch painting.