By: Dr Tancredi Caruso, School of Biological Sciences and Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University of Belfast
In the past, worldwide and across cultures people knew that soil plays a critical role in supporting our life cycle. In modern urban environments, too many still think that soil is just dirt. Ed Reynolds, an artist supported by the Leverhulme Trust, and I (a soil ecologist) will be trying to overturn that view to show the kaleidoscopic beauty of the biological universe called soil. We believe that art is the key to make people aware of the beauty and importance of soil biodiversity in our life. We will soon exhibit our work in Belfast: on 1st and 22nd of April 2017 we will have two events taking place respectively at the Ulster Museum and the Girdwood Hub in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the project has also illustrated Soil and War, a chapter from Richard Bardgett’s book Earth Matters (Oxford University Press): you can read more about that here.
The project will have a conclusive mural event: Northern Ireland murals have become iconic, reflecting local cultures and history, but very often also the divisions caused by the Northern Ireland conflict (also known as the Troubles). Especially in Derry and Belfast, the last decade has seen the replacement of sectarian murals with new murals that aim to rebuild deteriorating relationship across communities. Here, we aim to rebuild the deteriorating relationship between humans and soil, and for this reason we have decided to realise a mural in the middle of Belfast: we want to offer an artistic vision of soil to deliver a message of peace to all cultures in the world. A workshop with children from various backgrounds will take place in April (exact date yet to be decided) and the mural will then be painted. The walls have been identified, and details will follow soon: in the next post, we will show you the mural idea...stay tuned!