Soil Memory residency

Open Jar Collective spent two weeks in Madrid this summer investigating the soil ecosystems around the river in collaboration with INLAND and Huerta Matadero.  We hosted walks, talks, printing, paper-making, book binding activities and conversations.



The residency was structured in four parts


Local residents, students, ecologists, botanists, landscape architects, gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts joined us for a walk to study the river ecology. The walk created a space for learning and sharing memories, and we gathered a collection of plant specimens, soil samples and words.

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Participants were invited to work with plant specimens and soil samples collected along El Rio Manzanares to create a series of prints and hand-made papers.



Participants were invited to make a set of handmade books which act as an archive of the flora and fauna of the river and people’s relationship to it, at this moment in time.

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Our final event gathered people together for a meal at Huerta Matadero (the site of a future community garden) to see samples of the work created, share research findings, and explore actions that can be taken for the future of the soil and river ecosystem in Madrid. We posed three questions:

  • What memories does the soil hold?
  • What are your dreams for the soil of Madrid?
  • What actions can be taken to protect our soils?

We’ll be talking about our work during the Soil Memory residency at the CCA on Wednesday 16th August, 6pm.  We are also working on a zine which will be published in September.



Show Us Your Tools

At the beginning of May, Open Jar Collective were in residence at Scottish Sculpture Workshop, investigating the history and philosophy of land based tools.  Here are some of the questions we’ve been asking:

What brings a tool to life?

What is a dead (end) tool?

What are the tools of your trade?

What isn’t a tool?

Are tools inert and useless without human agency?

Do tools represent human ‘control’ over nature?

How do tools disrupt or enhance our ability to inhabit our environment?

We’ll be back at SSW in September to continue the research.

EAF (Environmental Arts Festival Scotland) Research Trip, Part 3

On our site visit to the Cairnsmore of Fleet area, we took photos and considered what shape our project should take for presentation at the festival An installation, treasure hunt, sculpture….? Perhaps to use this space or to setup in an space further into the Gatehouse of Fleet area…?

We happened to spot a great opportnity to go for a dip in the clean, bracing waters of the river underneath the viaduct.

All work and no play…

Stay tuned to follow our production phase for the event on 1st September…

EAF (Environmental Arts Festival Scotland) Research Trip, Part 2

The second trip we took down to the Gatehouse of Fleet region, the whole team were present. We split into two research teams and tried to fit in as many visits as we could with a two day time frame. We held interviews and recorded sounds and imagery, as well as the odd onsite sketch. Barstobrick and Littleton Farm, the Dairy Research Centre and Locharthur farm and visitor centre were on the cards.

It was a pleasure to get a behind-the-scenes insight into dairy farming, Most people that were interviewed were keen to show us where the cows eat, sleep, and are milked. It was encouraging to get the impression that animal welfare was fundamental and integral to the milking process, even at the non-organic sites.

It was also really interesting to hear farmers’ plans for the future – technological advancements, expansion/reduction, as well as plans for their own families and their legacy.

Part 3 to come…

EAF (Environmental Arts Festival Scotland) Research Trip, Part 1

Here’s some pictures from our visit back in June to Cream of Galloway, an organic dairy farm in the Gatehouse of Fleet area . At this stage in our research we wanted to visually record activities at the farm, record interviews and generally get a closer look at the dairy industry in this area.

We wanted to mainly get the farmer’s perspective on the industry and to encourage them to share both their passions and concerns.

Initially, we thought that we would focus on the processes involved in dairy farming (imagery of heavy machinery and food miles Vs. natural and local), but we soon discovered that the stories, hetitage and perspectives of people were much more engaging.

Part 2 to come…