Slowly Sinking

Ben Sisto with Vickie Hayward
For Ace Hotel Artists in Residence
24 June 2014 & 22 March 2017
Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve, London

Slowly Sinking —a series of projects inspired by Charles Darwin's book The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms— began to take shape during June of 2014 when I collaborated with a London-based pagan artist called Vickie Hayward to instigate a project involving worms residing in the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir area of Hackney Marshes / Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve.

In Formation, Darwin describes a process by which objects, including ancient ruins and large stones, are slowly lowered into the earth over generations as a result of worms bringing soil up to the surface from their burrows. In 2014, Hayward chose the site and cleansed three 1£ coins with sage, which I placed on the earth's surface with a coin toss in the hopes they would be buried by worms.

We visited the Reserves again on the morning of 22 March 2017 with tools supplied by the Earthworm Society of Britain, and conducted an amateur survey of soil conditions and the local worm population. In one section of Formation, Darwin details his studies on worm-hearing, making use of a piano, a bassoon and his own shouts. This inspired me to produce Burial of the Remains, a poem which was recited on site to an audience of worms.

+ Process & Site Documentation
+ Field Report
+ The Burial of the Remains 

Thanks Vickie Hayward, Tas Elias, Neil Anderson, Andy Keay and Keiron Brown.