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Surrey Unearthed

Surrey Unearthed

A programme of ten linked projects exploring the natural materials beneath our feet through sculpture, installation, film and writing.

Surrey Hills Arts developed this innovative programme with artists who have a strong connection and curiosity for the Surrey landscape. The resulting ten projects ran throughout 2018-19 focusing on the natural materials of the Surrey Hills landscape, their history and uses over time. 

The installations, art walks and community celebrations aimed to connect people with their local landscapes. The artists engaged others in their exploration of chalk, sand, clay, grass and wood unearthing hidden insights into a particular material, its uses over time and relevance today.

14,558 people directly engaged in the Surrey Unearthed talks, artworks, walks, exhibitions and workshops.

All the artists embedded themselves in key locations across the Surrey Hills. Ackroyd & Harvey explored the geological and social layers at Leith Hill with an interactive, evolving exhibition The Lark DescendingJonathan Parsons explored the geology along the chalk ridge creating a monumental installation, Fossil Ocean Floor. Mary Branson explored the rituals and celebration of farmland with a light installation called HarvestWalter Bailey created a sculptural shelter inspired by the ‘invisible’ hands that work the landscape called House of Invisible Hands.

Jane Ponsford travelled across the AONB collecting and creating artworks with found pigments as part of her project, Terrain. Amanda Loomes revealed the extraction processes in sand quarries in East Surrey with her Unearthed project resulting in two insightful art documentaries. 

140 pupils were guided through their Arts Award qualification by the artists learning new skills and experiencing new artworks in the landscape.

The engagement programme aimed to connect people to the landscape by working with and learning from the artists. Six schools from urban, disadvantaged areas in Surrey were identified and the pupils guided through Arts Award qualifications. The dedicated Arts Award Advisor for the project was able to support the teachers, artists and pupils throughout the process. 

‘This was a fantastic opportunity to extend our learning beyond the classroom and to trial the Arts Award in our school. It has given confidence to students who are often overlooked for academic recognition or sporting achievements. It has boosted their self-esteem and given them a taste for success and to not be afraid to take on leadership roles.’

Head of Art, Thomas Knyvett College

The established artists guided emerging artists who brought a fresh perspective from widely varied backgrounds to complete an audio walk & calling event by Alison Carlier, a rammed earth structure, by Bryn Hallet, an installation exploring the material clay from raw to fired by Steven Edwards and a travelling reading room by Amie Rai engaging people along the way.

The Surrey Unearthed programme concluded with an Art and Landscape symposium at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham attended at full capacity by 160 people.

Chaired by Professor Joy Sleeman, speakers included Trust New Art, Forest Artworks, artists and arts organisations in a day of sharing, networking and learning.

With thanks for support from: