Land Ground Earth Soil


Film, 17 mins, 4:3
Book, A6, 80pp

My final MA project looked at British land ownership and our disappearing democratic spaces - against the backdrop of Brexit, rising inequality and climate change. 
   The project sprang from my interest in the UK’s broken housing market and how its effects reach further into our everyday lives than we realise. Land ownership is notoriously secretive, and  largely kept out of the public eye. Even the different language we use to talk about the ground beneath our feet has helped to perpetuate this.
   For example, we use the word ‘earth’ when talking about climate change, ‘ground’ for roadworks and ‘soil’ for agriculture. While ‘land’ is used when talking about ownership, whether perceived or real. The gaps that open up between the use of these words effectively silo pressing issues that should be seen as part of a whole, like homelessness, tax-avoidance and climate change.
   The project uses montage and juxtaposition to challenge this dissonance and to draw out overlooked connections and contradictions. It urges the viewer to remember that we are all stakeholders in our land, ground, earth, soil - whichever word we use. It is a common good, and public dialogue about its ownership is long overdue.

Stills from the Land Ground Earth Soil film. 
The focus of the project is the film essay Land Ground Earth Soil. It combines my narrated prose with footage that includes protests, timelapses, thought-experiments, sign interventions and interviews1.
   These elements are woven together with clips from movies, tv, news, city-building video gameplay and 20th century public information films.

Stills of thought-experiments on how we share space2 and the materiality of soil and its relative ‘values’ in different parts of one London borough.

Stills of sign interventions using makeshift, manufactured or digitally animated signs.

The film can be viewed here︎︎︎
The book of the same name accompanies the film. It is intentionally pocket-sized, like a travel guide, and provides a transcript of the narration and subtitles. They run alongside my written text, which is drawn from wider research and analysis; as well as notes and references.
If you would like to purchase a printed and bound copy of the book for £10+pp please email me via the link on the info page.

The film screened for the MA show in its own mini-cinema - a garden shed3. It was adapted for gallery use, with a monitor, speakers, seating for four, and copies of the book for browsing. 
   The project gained an MA Distinction, nomination for the MullenLowe NOVA Awards and commendation by the Maison 0/Green Trail (CSM/LMVH) 2019. The film went on to be screened in further group shows:
  • Designing in Turbulent Times at the Lethaby Gallery, London.
  • The Next Thing Moving Image Award at Bury Art Museum, Bury.
  • Depictions of Living at The Art Pavilion, London.

1 Grateful thanks for the kind participation of Central St Martins staff and students.
2 Filmed interviewees include: Mike Carter, Guardian journalist and author of All Together Now? One Man’s Walk in Search of his Father and a Lost England (2019) Guardian Faber; Brett Christophers, Professor of Human Geography and author of The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain (2019) Verso; Scot, homeless, King’s Cross; Ben Wilson ‘Chewing Gum Man’, ground artist.
3 The shed was kindly donated by Forest Garden Ltd, and now resides in Central St Martins’ Graphic Communication Design studio.