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Glasgow, WITH open Jar collective, 2016 onwards


Soil city, Walking tour in North Glasgow. Photo : Clem Sandison

An (on-going) Open Jar Collective Project.


Launched as part of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts 2016.

Soil City is a long term project initiated by Open Jar Collective, to reimagine the city as if soil matters. The project seeks to make a space for conversation, participatory research and knowledge exchange. By engaging with the citizens of Glasgow and a wider community of scientists, artists, activists and academics, we hope to gain a better understanding of the relationship between healthy soil and healthy people.  We are interested in exploring how inequalities within society are reflected in the way land is used or remains ‘vacant’. By reframing soil as a valuable collective resource we aim to play a role in challenging economic, environmental, and health inequalities in Glasgow.

Photo : Clem Sandison

Soil city launched at Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts 2016, through which we undertook a period of field research to initiate a conversation about soil and find out what people’s interest in it was. This included a Soil City Lab open every day from the 8th – 25th April, a programme of walks, talks and events and Soil City bikes equipped with a bespoke testing kit, which roved round the city.

The conversations and activities were documented on a daily basis and published in our field notes. At the end of Glasgow International we began to identify strategies for ongoing collaboration, research and community action to address issues of soil stewardship and land rights. Since the festival we have published a small zine which shares some of the notes and thinking behind the project and we hosted a ‘Declaration for Soils.

Soil Library, Photo : Clem Sandison

'Can a city make soil?' facilitated workshop led by  James Hutton Institute at Soil City Lab. Photo : Clem Sandison

Worm surveys with community groups. Photo : Clem Sandison

One of the pieces designed and made by myself and William Greensmith was the ‘Soil city bikes.’ A rideable toolkit equipped with a bespoke testing tools to engage people in soil assessments, worm surveys, clay collection, plant identification, mini archaeological digs, and recording conversations and stories.

Soil City Lab. Photo : Clem Sandison

For more information about the project:

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