Ed was honoured to have been awarded the Leverhulme Trust funded Artist in Residence at Queens University, Belfast from July 2016 to May 2017. It was at the University where he worked closely alongside Prof. Tancredi Caruso and his colleagues, in the School of Biological Sciences, making bright, colourful and vibrant artworks , based on the findings of scientists from the lab.
The aim of the project was to deliver a critical mass of graphical and pictorial pieces of art in the form of sketches, paintings and digital images. These artworks were displayed in an exhibition at the Ulster Museum in May 2017 and now serve as the basis for a children’s book. Ed delivered a mural in Belfast with soil biodiversity as the main theme. Soil life has, for the first time, has been made visible to our urban lives to tell us its astonishing and forgotten story.
Still, if asked, most people, especially in urban areas, would name some ‘germs’ as the main inhabitants of soil and think that these ‘dark creatures’ chaotically thrive in the ground because soil is dirt. Worldwide and across cultures, people from rural environments would be more enlightened about soil, to the point of showing an almost religious appreciation of the key role played by soil in supporting our life cycle.
Collembolan painting its soil animal fellows, Ed Reynolds.
How can we provide the public with the experiences that could holistically lead to a deep appreciation of the vital importance of soil? Soil is inherently complex, dark and opaque, but unravelling its secrets would reveal a kaleidoscopic universe hosting phenomenal physical, chemical and, most importantly, biological diversity full of beauty. The residency of Ed Reynolds at the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is designed to shed light on the unseen soil biodiversity. Ed has a vibrant and bright style and uses a variety of techniques and media, ranging from very small-scale projects to large murals. There is not a better time for an artist to explore soil: the year 2015 was the UN International Year of Soils (IYS). Several initiatives have been conducted within the IYS platform with the main aim of raising awareness of the vital role of soil for ecosystem services and food security. Many countries, including the UK, are significantly investing in research that will underpin the future management of soil. Ed’s work will be part of that via QUB and its Institute for Global Food Security, involved in the NERC Soil Security Programme.
Plans are now in place to produce and illustrate a children’s book about soil in 2018!