Art project ‘Decrustate’ has created a soil exhibition for the new Blue Peter Garden at RHS Bridgewater

Salford organisation, Incredible Education has been working in partnership with the Decrustate project to create soil-based art that will be displayed at the Blue Peter Garden at RHS Bridgewater later this year. The organisation has asked residents of Salford to come up with ideas for nature-based soil designs that can be exhibited as part of the art installation.

Blue Peter Garden MediaCityUk – Alex Kershaw

Anneli Ketterer runs the project which is a continuation of her 22-year exploration of nature and the role soil plays in preserving it. The project has taken Anneli all over the world but she was inspired to begin it while out in the Namib desert.

“The Namib dessert is a dessert that gets fog in the night time and the fog is the only thing that settles in these highly volatile surfaces without changing them.”

“Then in the morning you can take a piece in your hand that’s originally bound by fog water only, with no signs of any touch”

Anneli scours natural landscapes to find ground that has been imprinted by animals or other elements of nature and has developed a technique called decrustation, which has taken 22 years to perfect, whereby she can permanently bind natural surfaces and preserve them to create her art.


Rhino Prints in Sand – Alex Kershaw


Sidewinder Trail – Alex Kershaw



Lizard Tracks in sand – Alex Kershaw

“These are all original earth surfaces that we fix here on-site and we don’t change a single grain and once it’s strong enough, fixed enough, we can then take it which is why we call it ‘decrustate’ because we remove the crust of earth”

Anneli was asked by the new Blue Peter Garden designer at RHS Bridgewater, Juliet Sargeant, to come and contribute to the project within the Salford community and has taken art materials from the local area to create her art pieces.

“I basically said to her, great lets do it with a community… I bring some from the worldwide to work and some of them we collect right where the garden will be because I think it’s most important that people connect to their own ground, to their own soil”.

Anneli sees this as a way for people to reconnect with nature and for her exhibits to introduce and educate them in new concepts. The project shows just how important soil is for our eco system.

“Nowadays people realise much much more what a fundamental, central role soil plays. The moment when you’re in an exhibition and you watch the people checking the things on the wall, the decrustates, and you see all the light bulbs going off… that’s a nice moment”

“In the desert, you basically start understanding how small we all are as people, nature is so dominant, nature is so grand, so important, so everywhere and we are so small”

“Soil is soul, it is part of our makeup, it’s what we think, what we see, it’s all about soil in the end”

Respect and awe of nature is a key part of Anneli’s work and her methods allow her to showcase its beauty without interfering with delicate eco-systems.

“We are not as good as nature so we’re not taking nature in the first place and get that contact happening”.

The installation will appear in the new Blue Peter Garden later this year at RHS Bridge Water.


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