Another kind of soil; another kind of need.
A project for Arboretum Park Derby
As a species we need to be needed.
I would argue that for all of our brief existence humans have known that they need the earth and that the earth in all its wondrous connectivity through its natural ecology gives us borders to cross as we struggle as a species to better connect and learn from its complexity.
When considering the possibilities of work for the Arboretum Park in Derby it was this border between us and nature that came to mind. For me it is a border that, in our quests to cross it, brings us meaning and wonder.
The donation of the land by Joseph Strutt to become the first public park was both an act of generosity and demonstrated acute social responsibility. Strutt would have known that the borders between us and the natural world were very important to us. He would have sensed that in the world he knew, one of intense industrialisation, that people needed, metaphorically and physically, lungs within their environment. The Park became a place to breathe and to re-enter the border of us and natural environment.
With this in mind my project is to construct a soil from documents collected from the histories of this area of Derby with a particular emphasis on the park. This will happen over a period of a year as the documents are shredded and added to a dedicated compost tumbler. I have built soils before. They consist of some 85% paper but do have the capacity to sustain growth. I am interested in whatever grows from the soil being metaphorically and actually part of the tree or plant that grows out of it. This merging of constructed soil with the soils of a place is a kind of bringing cultural information to blend with the indigenous soil; a crossing a border of sorts.
Below are some pictures of past work, showing the process in which paper is made into soil.
Come late summer 2016 I propose to bring the soil to the park and to plant a small tree in the site. The soil will be placed in with the parks soil to feed the tree. The type of tree will be decided upon through consolations with the local communities who, I hope they will take some sense of ownership and care of the tree in same way as the park itself began the idea of green spaces in cities being very important to the wellbeing of our species; another kind of caring as a need to be needed.