John Newling Peterborough Soil Peterborough Museum and art gallery (8 January - 21 February 2010) About the Project
The redevelopment of Peterborough’s city centre is not just a cleaning of its environment; it is essentially a renewal of the commitment to the people who occupy its public realm. To this end John Ealing’s project seeks to generate phases of work that evolves through a series of transactions and transformations creating art works inclusive of the city of Peterborough and its natural environment.
Phase one of the project was the call for people of Peterborough to contribute images of Peterborough to a dedicated website. These photographs of places and events in Peterborough that hold a special memory were collected through a dedicated website and at the museum. Alongside of the images a short text, in relation to the image, was also submitted. These images formed the bulk of the content of the phase two of the project.
Phase two of the project was the collation and design of the received images into a newspaper. The Peterborough Soil newspaper will be widely distributed through out the city in parallel with the project’s installation. A proportion of the newspapers are to be used in phase three of the project.
Phase three of the project is an installation for Peterborough museum. The installation will house two industrial cages accommodating the processes of newspaper distribution and shredding whilst the other will contain a converted compost tumbler that will transform in the ratio of 80% paper to 20% vegetative the newspapers into soil.
This compost will be, both metaphorically and actually, a soil containing the images and texts of Peterborough submitted by people from Peterborough. The ‘living’ installation will house a number of experiments centred around compositional analysis of the constructed soil in order to determine at what point the soil can sustain plant life.
Phase four of the project is the 'Redistribution' of the soil. This concluding phase of the project sees the constructed soil returned to the City of Peterborough. The soil will be placed into the fabric of the newly constructed St Johns Square. The live event of this action ‘Redistribution’ will see the soil becoming a permanent element of the nourishment of the grassed area that people will stand, sit and walk across in the square. In this manner the soil that is metaphorically and actually a soil containing the images and texts of Peterborough submitted by people from Peterborough will forever be at a border between people and the earth, a kind of live archaeological presence; an intelligent soil enriched with a renewed belief in the values of us.