RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 416
Datec 1930-2013
Extentc 150 linear metres
TitleCommon Ground Archive
DescriptionThe Common Ground archive comprises a range of material created and collected by the charity in the course of its activities between 1983 and 2013. It includes: correspondence, notes, financial papers, reports, press clippings, research material, photographs, audio recordings, sheet music, publications, and promotional material. Some library material is also included.

Material in the archive is mainly organised into sections according to project, reflecting its original order and use at Common Ground. The projects are: 'Second Nature', 'Holding your Ground', 'New Milestones', 'Trees, Woods and the Green Man', 'Parish Maps', 'Orchards' including 'Save Our Orchards' and 'Community Orchards', 'Flora Britannica', 'Apple Day', 'The Campaign for Local Distinctiveness', 'Gardening and Local Distinctiveness', 'Field Days', 'Thames Ballad & Rivers', 'Confluence', 'England in Particular', and 'Producing the Goods'.

Significant papers included in the archive include:

1. Friends of the Earth's 1980 'Wildlife Habitat Loss' - A Preliminary Report by Angela King.
2. All published books, pamphlets, booklets, leaflets and manifestos on such subjects as trees (PULP!), woods (In a Nutshell), fields (Manifesto for Fields and Ideas for Investigations and Celebrations of Fields), rivers (Confluence News), and orchards ('The Apple Broadsheet' and 'The Community Orchards Handbook' and 'The Apple Source Book').
3. Full copies of 'The Apple Broadcast', a regular newspaper concerning all Apple Day and orchard-related activities across the country.
4. Full copies of the Tree Dressing Day Times and Tree Dressing Day News newspapers written to promote ideas and celebrate Tree Dressing Day events across the country.
5. Full copies of 'Confluence Newsletter', a regular newspaper concerning all river-related musical and arts events created during their project 1998-2001.
6. Copies of 'PULP!' Including the broadsheet catalogue for the Crafts Council exhibition 'Out of the Wood' designed by Pearce Marchbank and edited by Angela King and Roger Deakin, 1989. A publication with contributions from Germaine Greer, Roger Deakin, Oliver Rackham as well as cartoons by numerous well-known artists.
7. Indexed information sent in from several hundred parish mapping groups across the country concerning the process of making the Parish Maps.
8. Detailed information on the Parish Maps made by artists such as Helen Chadwick, David Nash, Stephen Willats, Antony Gormley, Simon Lewty and many others.
9. Correspondence from Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, and Richard Mabey concerning the launch events at the ICA for Common Ground's first publication 'Second Nature'.
10. Correspondence between Andy Goldsworthy and John Makepeace concerning Andy's residency at Hooke Park, Dorset for New Milestones.
11. Detailed national and local press archives concerning all projects.
12. A digitised image archive of all projects with particular interest around Parish Maps, New Milestones, Confluence, Orchards, Trees, Woods and the Green Man, Granite Song (by Peter Randall Page), and Sod Swap (by David Nash).
13. Detailed information about David Nash's 'Sod Swap'.
14. Detailed information including press archive regarding Andy Goldsworthy's residency on Hampstead Heath in the winter of 1985-6.
15. Detailed information on Peter Randall Page's Devon sculptural project 'Granite Song'.
16. Full paperwork on planning, design, and management of the first Community Forest project in the UK led by the Countryside Commission and the Forestry Commission (Thames Chase 1990). Common Ground employed on a consultancy basis regarding arts involvement.
17. Images and information on several important New Milestones sculpture projects that happened after the publication of the Common Ground book on the subject.
18. County by county index of collected correspondence and information sent in for 'Flora Britannica'.
19. All sheet music and written compositions for the Confluence project, a musical project creating new works for the River Stour in Dorset.
Admin HistoryCommon Ground is an arts and environmental charity that was founded in 1983 by Sue Clifford, Angela King and Roger Deakin, who all had links with the environmental organisation, Friends of the Earth. From the beginning, Common Ground's two main objectives were: 'to promote the importance of our common cultural heritage - common plants and animals, familiar and local places, local distinctiveness and our links with the past; and to explore the emotional and spiritual value these things have for us by forging practical and philosophical links between the arts and the conservation of nature and landscapes' ('Holding Your Ground: An Action Guide to Local Conservation', 1985).

In addition to Clifford, King and Deakin, Common Ground's board of directors and trustees have included Richard Mabey, Robert Hutchinson, Barbara Bender, Robin Grove-White, Frazer Harrison and Rupert Nabarro. David Cecil Holmes supported Common Ground as its Art Director from c 1985/6 with the design of posters, leaflets and pamphlets, and acted as Illustration Art Director for the book 'England in Particular'. Common Ground does not have branches or membership, and has instead obtained funding from government agencies, charitable trusts, business, and donations. Sources of funding have included: the Countryside Commission, The Carnegie UK Trust, the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, the London Boroughs Grants Scheme, the Henry Moore Foundation, the Nature Conservancy Council, the Arts Council of Great Britain, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. In July 1989, Common Ground won the Prudential Award for Visual Arts (£25,000).

Over the years Common Ground has worked with a number of artists, writers and composers. Among them are Andy Goldsworthy, Peter Randall Page, Christine Angus, Simon Thomas, John Maine, Michael Fairfax, David Nash, Norman Ackroyd, Richard Mabey, Oliver Rackham, Marina Warner, James Crowden, David Hart, Conrad Atkinson, Chris Chapman, James Ravilious, Simon Lewty, Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, Karen Wimhurst, and John Fowles.

Common Ground has been responsible for a number of pioneering projects, which can be argued to have had a considerable impact on the cultural geography of Britain in the period 1983-2013. Through its project work, Common Ground has sought to encourage people to emotionally engage with and celebrate everyday places using the arts, as well as to inspire them to take a more long-term and active role in local conservation. As a result, many of the projects - in particular, 'Parish Maps' and 'Apple Day' - have proven to be highly sustainable, and their impact has continued long after Common Ground's active involvement in them ceased. The output from the projects has included publications, artistic commissions, exhibitions, and events.

Common Ground was originally based in Covent Garden in London. The charity relocated within London three times (first the London Ecology Centre, then next door in Shelton Street, and then a block away in Earlham Street), before moving to Shaftesbury, Dorset in August 2001, where it continued under the leadership of Sue Clifford and Angela King until 2013. In 2013, the archive was donated to University of Exeter Special Collections, and the directorship of the charity was passed to Adrian Cooper in Toller Fratrum, Dorset, where work continues to this day.
LanguageEnglish, but includes some items in other languages
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialSee RD/ENV for material relating to Common Ground in the Roger Deakin archive, held by the Archives Department of the University of East Anglia.
Access ConditionsPlease contact the Special Collections team if you have an enquiry. Please note that parts of the collection may be restricted subject to Data Protection legislation.
ArrangementCurrently organised by project in the original order it was kept and used in at Common Ground in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Please note: many of the projects overlap thematically and chronologically, and sections of the archive may contain material relevant to more than one project.
Finding_AidsDraft box list
Creator_NameCommon Ground; arts and environmental charity (1983-)
Clifford; Susan [b 1944]
King; Angela [b 1944]
Deakin; Roger [1943-2006]
Mgt_GroupLiterary papers
Historical papers
Visual culture papers
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