Open a window under my feet

As part of the Social Microbes residencies, Francesca Willow joined us to work for 2 weeks, collaborating with Dr. Elze Hesse, and with Soul Farm as an extra host. So that more people can see Francesca’s work, a video of her full choreography and performance is now available, you can also read all the text used for the many signs embedded in the soil around the farm, and see some photos of her installation work below - this was all exhibited at Soul Farm in July 2023. The residencies have been funded via Elze Hesse's UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

Francesca was interested in the invisible networks of microbes and fungi beneath our feet, that help plants communicate and exchange nutrients. She visited Elze in the microbiology lab to see how microbial colonies grow, and turned this into a large number of painted tiles and other pieces exhibited around the Soul Farm site, together with information to encourage people to connect better with the world below them in the soil. She also made a solo choreographed dance exploring themes of entanglement. All this work was turned into an installation/performance that intertwined with two farm tours given by Soul Farm, as part of the Cornish Bank festival.

Dance isn’t a type of work that we’ve supported before through our residencies, partly because it’s a medium that we have no experience with ourselves and have felt a bit disconnected from. It’s been a valuable experience from our perspective to see a topic we’ve developed being interpreted through very different skills and ways of understanding the world. It also helps to reach new audiences who might not usually get involved with scientific topics, or feel connected to our projects. As always, diversity is joyful and strengthening.

Installation photos from around the farm

Photo of sign saying open a window under my feet, embedded in the soil, and another sign with a lot of text on it, together with some tile offcuts wired together into a network

Photo of a sign embedded in the soil surrounded by lettuces

photo of a tile painted like bacterial growth, embedded in the soil between seedlings

photo of a tile painted like bacterial growth, embedded in the soil between seedlings

photo of a tile painted like bacterial growth, embedded in the soil between seedlings

Photo of wires and string bound together in a network, against a blurred background of plants

Photo of origami birds strung around an old greenhouse

Photo of a painting of an abstract bird, lying on the soil above a spade in the old greenhouse

And here's a bonus pic of Francesca, Elze and Dave hiding from the rain in the polytunnel in between shows.

3 people standing in a polytunnel, hiding from the rain and chatting