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Kate Foster | Re-Telling The Congress | World Congress of Soil Science, Glasgow, 2022 | Micro Commission 

From 1st-4th August the World Congress of Soil Science 2022 was hosted at the SEC in Glasgow. The World Congress of Soil Science is a big deal. It’s held every 4 years at different venues around the world. Hundreds on national and international soil scientists come together to present their research in lectures, presentations, and posters. The theme for the 2022 congress was: ‘Soil Science – crossing boundaries, changing society’ focuses on the link between soil and society, with sessions covering soil systems, soil processes, soil management and how we interact with and use soils around the world’.  

At a time of global concern for our planet and its growing population, managing our soils sustainably has never been as important. 90% of our food comes from soil, as does all of our timber and other fibre. Soil, and the ecosystems it supports, have a huge role in mitigating against climate change, is a vast reservoir of biodiversity, plays a significant role in flood management and contains key evidence of past civilisations. 

World Congress of Soil Science 2022 Glasgow, Scotland

Given the importance of this conference, Glasgow being the host city, and the wealth of new knowledge being shared, combined with knowing that the conferences was programmed for a delegation of predominantly scientists expert in their fields, we wanted to recount the congress from the perspective of an artist engaged in work about peatlands.  


Artist Kate Foster has long focused on peat and peat cultures within her art practice. We invited Kate to join us at the Congress to creatively re-tell our collective learning experience: Re-telling the Congress. 

In addition to the Zine, Kate blogged Proceeding: the World Soil Science Congress 

For UN FAO World Soils Day on December 5th, 2022, Kate invited CCC to participate in a round table discussion with the World Soil Museum in Wageningen, The Netherlands (where Kate was Artist-in-Residence), to collectively explored the themes that emerged from Kate’s Congress refection’s – and her residency - in more depth.  

Arts & Soil Science Communities: Research into Action!   

A slide from Kate Foster's presentation on World Soils Day

At the Congress, for me, artwork that stood out was collaborative and made a commitment to local people in places they valued. As an artist, you need support and time to do this well. You need to step away from ideas of ‘art’ shaped by the tradition of individual artists being profiled on the walls of galleries. I think grassroots art-activists can help with the Congress goal to ‘cross boundaries and change society’ because they are adept at improvising ways of working with institutional frameworks. In the climate emergency that science reveals, artists can help find new ways to bring people together to work, with urgency.  

Kate Foster  

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