Andrew John Fergus and Holly Sandiford

Lumen Print created by Holly

We chose six sites in Essex based on their geological and biological significance. Andrew took wide-angle, idealised shots, concentrating on the flora and the natural and man-made divisions in the landscape. He also recorded soundscapes and used pinhole cameras that Holly made to track the path of the sun across the landscape.

Andrew then sent Holly soil samples in the post from each site. Holly used these to culture micro-landscapes in Petri dishes and Windogradsky columns, as well as painting the soil directly onto photographic paper. She used macro, analogue, and alternative photography to document this process. This work was then combined by Andrew to create the video below which explores ideas of micro and macro in the landscape.



Lumen Prints using Painted Soil.

The first six images are lumen prints created by painting the soil onto photographic paper. It creates a cosmological effect that plays with ideas of the micro and the macro and challenges the materiality of the soil as being unexpectedly elusive and mystical.

Windogradsky Microbial Gardens.

These next images are macro shots of Windogradsky columns, which are enclosed, self-sustaining microbial systems cultured from the soil found at the different sites. The process created micro landscapes which differ according to the microbial make-up of the soil.

Culturing Soil Samples in Petri Dishes.

These last images are the microbes from the soil samples cultured in Petri-dishes. These were then placed onto photographic paper to create lumen prints. The microbes mixing with the chemicals in the papers formed cloud-like formations, again affirming the link between the macro and micro in the natural world.

SITE 1: ALTHORNE CLIFFS: The Cliffs Also known as 'The Cliff' or 'Butts Cliff', sit on the north shore of the River Crouch between Althorne and Burnham-on-Crouch. They are made of London Clay and, since the sites discovery in the early 1970s, have become a great spot for fossil hunters with the cliffs harbouring remains of fossilised fish, bird bones and crustaceans. It is also a known spot for Selenite (gypsum) crystals.

Althorne Cliff video:

SITE 2: BUELL SPRINGS: Buell Spring sits about 70 meters above sea level on Danbury Hill which has a spring line that runs right around it. The largest of these springs is Buell Spring which feeds into Buell Brook.  By 1911 the springs provided fresh water to 4000 people. In 1962 the pumps and reservoirs used to store this water were demolished leaving behind brick foundations and pipework. The spring water now flows from a cast iron pipe by these old foundations. An accumulation of red/orange 'Bog-iron' can now be found nearby.

Buell Spring video:

SITE 3: GREAT TOTHAM GRAVEL PIT: The present Kesgrave Sands and Gravels at Great Totham Gravel Pit were laid down by the River Thames, when it flowed through Essex and up to Suffolk, during the early ice age. The gravel comprises of mostly flint however 'exotic' pebbles are also present including Ignimbrite; a volcanic rock from North Wales.

Great Totham Gravel Pit video:

SITE 4: WOODROLFE CREEK: The Woodrolfe Creek Salt-marshes were formed by deposits of silt and mud within which were then colonised by salt-tolerant plants in sheltered patches. Radiocarbon dating of these plants suggests that this site is approximately 5000 years old and that the growth rate of the marsh has been a fairly consistent 1.5 millimetres per year. The marshes are dissected by a system of creeks and salt pans and are used by boats as a harbour.

Woodrolfe Creek video:

SITE 5: LAWLING CREEK: Lawling Creek lines the eastern foreshore of the Blackwater Estuary, near Maylandsea. Made up of London Clay the site has produced many fossils, notably of crustaceans. Selenite (gypsum) crystals can also be found. The creeks 'soft rock' coastline has been recognised of national geological importance as it demonstrates how far London clay can spread. They also contain deep-water fish with species not seen elsewhere.

Lawling Creek video:

SITE 6: DANBURYGRAVEL PIT: Not too far from Buell Spring sits the Danbury Common Gravel Pits and which were formally worked for Danbury gravel( a thick layer of orange-brown sandy gravel on Danbury Hill). On this high ground some 450,000 years ago during the Anglian Glaciation, the ice was backed up against the north side of the hill. This  formed a barrier to the advance of the southern ice sheet and when the meltwater was released deposits of sand and gravel were left behind. The hill itself now consists of London Clay with a covering of this Danbury gravel.

Danbury Gravel Pit video:


We quickly found the intersection between our work through the creation of an online mind map and regular Zoom meetings, we also met up once to discuss ideas in more depth. The challenge and limitation of collaborating with someone during a lockdown made for a more interesting project as we had to find innovative ways of working together. It’s been a great experience for us both and has propelled the bounds of our individual practices.

Our online mind map.