Earth Eaters

Earth Eaters Featuring: Sol Bailey-Barker, Natasha Bird, Charly Blackburn, Ebinum Brothers, William Cobbing, Kathryn Graham, Byzantia Harlow, Gregory Herbert, Timo Kube, Jane Lawson, Dunstan Low, Tasha Marks | AVM Curiosities, the Institute of Queer Ecology, Hannah Walton, Charlie Warde, Russell Webb, Trystan Williams, William York.


Russell Webb Dürer’s Turf, 2010 Wood and acrylic paint 41 x 76.5 x 60.5 cms A copy Albrecht Dürer’s watercolour drawing The Large Piece of Turf from 1503 has been pinned to the wall of the artist’s studio for as long as he can remember. The plot of tangled grasses and leaves that Dürer depicted probably grew somewhere near his home in Nuremburg but is also typical of any Northern European grassland since pre-history. The decision to recreate it in three dimensions was a way of entering a dialogue with the great German master. The masterwork, which resides in the Albertina, Vienna is regarded as a paragon of objective realism but Webb always thought there was something slightly odd about it. Not just the inclusion of roots or the low, sharp horizon that appears to baffle scholars but a kind of perspectival shift. Years later whilst looking at the image for the umpteenth time he saw it differently. Surely, he thought, The Large Piece of Turf is the view as seen by the Young Hare that Durer had recorded the year before.

Having experienced the fallout from a global pandemic, we now know that we not only anticipated the exact situation we are in (see the film Contagion for Nostradamus like predictions), but we potentially could have had the vaccine for it by now. Those countries that prepared and handled it correctly, avoided death tolls that surpassed those of WW2 and international economic freefall. Why was it that we did not do something about our impending doom when we had all the warning signs? Will, we now learn that lesson and take action against climate change – an outcome of which we cannot learn how to simply live alongside – and that we have known about since it was discovered in 1824 – when French physicist Joseph Fourier describes the Earth’s natural “greenhouse effect”

EARTH EATERS is an alternative name for the condition Geophagia – the practice in humans and animals of eating earth or more specifically the clay and mineral content within it. It is part of a larger eating disorder called Pica – the consumption of non-nutritive substances such as clay, starch, ice and chalk. This behaviour is usually found in people that have underlying deficiencies (blood cells, haemoglobin or zinc).

That said, Pica has been practised since 400BC and has both positive and negative consequences. This exhibition will explore soil’s potential role in the prevention of climate change, the artistic use of soil/earth as medium, and calls on us to readdress and promote the health of, the vital substance that we take for granted.

One of the things that makes soil such a fundamental component of any climate change mitigation strategy is because it represents a long-term storage of carbon. With news that the permafrost (the frozen layer of soil that has underlain the Arctic tundra for millennia) is now starting to thaw, we are now able to excavate mammoths from their ancient graves, and the race between world leaders to exploit the vast untapped resources of the Arctic signifies our total rejection of warning signs which we cannot afford to ignore.

William York  Look at us Now , 2020  Mini physique skeleton set in plaster with fake plants  91 x 61 x 15 cm     Sophisticated, intelligent and innovative? What would our ancestors think of the way we treat the Planet today?  Earth Eating, or eaten by the Earth. This is quintessentially what happens to every organism on our planet. We get our nutrients from the Earth, we die, decompose and give it back. Its the eternal cycle of life. Eat, breed, die. What happens when the cycle is tainted?  As finite beings, we (generally) don’t consider our impact to the earth, or the long lasting effects we may bring, both positive or negative. It is our duty to rescue the Earth from us. “The research reveals that once a tipping point has been passed, breakdowns do not occur gradually like an unravelling thread, but rapidly like a stack of Jenga bricks after a keystone piece has been dislodged.” Jonathan Watts.

William York Look at us Now , 2020 Mini physique skeleton set in plaster with fake plants 91 x 61 x 15 cm Sophisticated, intelligent and innovative? What would our ancestors think of the way we treat the Planet today?  Earth Eating, or eaten by the Earth. This is quintessentially what happens to every organism on our planet. We get our nutrients from the Earth, we die, decompose and give it back. Its the eternal cycle of life. Eat, breed, die. What happens when the cycle is tainted?  As finite beings, we (generally) don’t consider our impact to the earth, or the long lasting effects we may bring, both positive or negative. It is our duty to rescue the Earth from us. “The research reveals that once a tipping point has been passed, breakdowns do not occur gradually like an unravelling thread, but rapidly like a stack of Jenga bricks after a keystone piece has been dislodged.” Jonathan Watts.

By exploring the relationships between philosophy and nature, the personal and the political, destruction
and construction, and considering the distinction of non-human and human agents- the works in EARTH
EATERS will question what is at stake in the ecological crises of the 21st century. This will be navigated by blending diverse areas of expertise, including paintings, sculptures, videos and installations to challenge the conventional systems of classification, suggesting a worldview that strives to dislocate humans from their assumed position of centrality and superiority as knowers and actors in the world.

253 Hoxton St, Whitmore Estate, London N1 5LG 25th September – 4th October 12 – 8pm PV Thursday 24th Sept 4 – 9pm  More Info: @cole_projects  

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad