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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 20:23 GMT
Soil proves 'anything can be art'
Soil art
Where there's muck, there's brass at the gallery
Art fans are being offered the chance to cast a critical gaze over a mound of soil - and then pay 7 for a bag containing the dirt.

New York artist Joe Scanlan is staging his first UK exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

He has transformed the gallery into a mini-processing plant, to produce Paydirt, a high grade potting soil researched and developed by the artist over the last five years.

The soil is made up of consumer by-products from the Birmingham area, including used ground coffee, sawdust, eggshells and potting soil.

We don't want it to sell too well or there won't be an exhibition to see

Jonathon Watkins

The soil is then repackaged and resold to visitors as part of the exhibition.

Gallery director Jonathon Watkins said: "The liberating message of this exhibition is that essentially anything can be art.

"Art can be useful and it can be recycled so it is a very positive message."

Mr Watkins said it was "early days" when asked how many gallery visitors had bought bags of soil.

Gallery director Jonathon Watkins
Jonathon Watkins with some of the soil

But he admitted: "We don't want it to sell too well or there won't be an exhibition to see."

The exact thinking behind the artist's work is explained in detail on the Ikon Gallery website.

It explains: "The project forms part of Scanlan's ongoing ambition to create a commercial product that is seen as a work of art.

"A reconciliation between industry and the environment, Paydirt proposes how art can be both meaningful and profitable."

The exhibition runs at the gallery in Brindleyplace until 23 March.


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See also:

05 Feb 02 | Entertainment
15 Aug 01 | Entertainment
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