New artist-in-residence at World Soil Museum invites peatland conversations

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28 Jan 2022

This year, the ISRIC World Soil Museum welcomes an artist-in-residence to bring new perspectives to education about the importance and diversity of soils. The artist, Kate Foster, will work with the World Soil Museum during 2022 to generate dialogue and engagement around peatland and wetland soils.

Kate Foster is an environmental artist in the Netherlands and Scotland. Her ecological concern led to collaborative art-science projects and involvement with grassroots restoration projects and advocacy. Since 2016, she has focussed on wetlands.

“Peatlands are among the most severely affected by human-induced degradation. The work of Kate is thought-provoking, stimulates dialogue and invites to reflect on the values of wetlands and their soils in relation to society and sustainability,” said Head of the World Soil Museum Stephan Mantel.

              A Water Table (it needs to level up) © Kate Foster 2020

Kate’s commitment to making peaty connections between Scotland and the Netherlands led to an Erasmus+ scholarship in Wageningen University (2020) with the Home Turf Project — a project which analyses the long-term development of raised bogs in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

This year, Kate’s residency with the World Soil Museum will bring together her interests in the heritage and future of wetlands and their soils, environmental advocacy and fostering community conversations.


The first collaborative initiative of Kate’s work at the World Soil Museum will be a four-part online series of researchers talks for the wider community on peatland-related topics. How have people interacted with peatland landscapes over time? How can we know more about peatlands and appreciate their value better? The four webinars will give a variety of perspectives from interdisciplinary research by Wageningen University and Research’s (WUR) Home Turf and Wetfutures projects.

Each webinar will present new research work on a particular theme with a response by Kate. See below for more information about each event and how to participate.

#1 Past environments of peatlands

Thursday, February 10, 2022 at 14.00-16.00 CET

Register here:

Why is it important to date peat from the depths of raised bogs, many of which have now been dug away? Can science help reconstruct how water flowed and where bog iron ores developed? How might an artist begin to think about such scales of time and space?

Explore these questions with Head of World Soil Museum Stephan Mantel, WUR Assistant Professor in Soil Geography and Landscape (SGL) and Cultural Geography (GEO) Roy van Beek, WUR PhD candidates in Soil Geography and Landscape Group Cindy Quik and Aukjen Nauta, and artist Kate Foster.

#2 Archeological tales from the bog

Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 14.00-16.00 CET

Register here:

Peatlands yield information about past and present human cultures as well as landscape change. How can we tell the stories of this natural and cultural heritage and incorporate these narratives in museum contexts? What creatives routes might help imagine lives that have been lived, weaving above and below ground?

Explore these questions with Head of World Soil Museum Stephan Mantel, WUR Assistant Professor in Soil Geography and Landscape and Cultural Geography Roy van Beek, Drents Museum Curator of Archeology Floor Huisman, artist Kate Foster.

#3 Reviewing cultural histories

Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 14.00-16.00 CET

Register here:

What does new historical research tell us about people’s perceptions and use of peat bogs? How does this connect to present day meanings? What is the potential of incorporating the past in landscape development? How can a newcomer begin to see signs of Dutch peaty cultural landscapes?

Explore these questions with Head of World Soil Museum Stephan Mantel, WUR PhD candidate in Cultural Geography Dr. Maurice Paulissen, WUR Postdoc researcher in Soil Geography and Landscape Rowin van Lanen, and artist Kate Foster.

#4 Living with peatlands today

Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 14.00-16.00 CET

Register here:

What is the current sense of peatlands in The Netherlands? How can the other research we have heard about relate to this? How do people perceive peatlands in Ireland, where 20% of the country is covered by peat soil of which 85% is environmentally degraded? How might an artist characterise non-human figures for new narratives?

Explore these questions with Head of World Soil Museum Stephan Mantel, WUR Research and Education officer in Cultural Geography Maria de Wit, National Geographic Explorer Emily Toner and artist Kate Foster.

More about the artist:

Kate Foster’s formal education includes Environmental Art in 2001 at the Glasgow School of Art, a PhD in social science, and an MSc in Research in Interdisciplinary Creative Practice from University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 2019. Learn more about Kate Foster’s work here: Related linksWorld Soil MuseumContact:Stephan Mantel

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