earthTouch – The Hands That Change This Earth

September 18, 2014
©Ciaran Burke

©Ciaran Burke – Dee’s hands

I felt honoured to be asked to model for an interesting project recently that celebrates the soil. I joyfully accepted this photographic opportunity as for once the camera wasn’t aimed at my face, far from it in fact for the photographer wasn’t looking to capture images and expressions of people, he was looking for the story of our hands.

earthTouch Project

Ciaran Burke, horticulturist and photographer, has recognised that the soil doesn’t discriminate between poverty and wealth, age or experience, religion or race, the soil welcomes and accepts everyone who wants to tend to her. For the past few months Ciaran’s been travelling to far-flung corners of Ireland for his earthTouch project, capturing images of hands that work with this earth and the stories and tales are as varied as they are interesting.

Earth and Soil

I asked our youngest the question recently,

“what does the soil mean to you? What words pop into your mind to describe it?”

“It’s dirty and mucky, brown, wet and cold”, she said, “it’s the place that puddles collect in and a whole bunch of insects live.”

“And what do you think would happen if there was no soil” I asked,

“well there’d be no bees or butterflies as there’d be no flowers, there’d be no trees so no oxygen and then we’d all die”

“…and there’d be no food”, she added, almost as an afterthought, probably because I had a look on my face that was willing her to remember all the veggies growing in our garden.

Dee Sewell's Hands, Earth Touch Project

©Ciaran Burke – Dee’s Hands

The Planet

Just for a moment close your eyes and picture Planet Earth as if you were looking down from space. The globe is covered with oceans and mountains, forests, rivers and deserts. In among that whorl of colour are pockets of land that are farmed. Those patchwork fields that cover the Earth’s crust are covered with just a few feet of fertile soil and to some degree or another, they feed the entire population of our planet.

How precious a resource that we barely give a second thought to.

Next time you glance down at the place where the plants grow, spare a thought for the earth. It’s so much more than the muddy, brown stuff that sticks to our boots. It’s the core of our very being.

earthTouch Exhibition

Ciaran’s exhibition of hands can be seen alongside his Moments in the Air project at Mount Venus Nursery on the 27th and 28th September 2014. If you can’t make it along to the nursery, you can take a look here at some of the many hands he’s already captured and read their story.


  • Reply honeyoaks September 19, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Love this post! Hands in the soil are one of my favourite things. What I have really enjoyed recently is how warm the soil is. All too often our soil is as your youngest described, wet and cold! But it is heavenly right now.

    • Reply greensideupveg September 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Thank you so much! We’ve had such a wonderful spell of warm weather, it feels like the year has been lengthened by months.

  • Reply Mizz Winkens September 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Lovely post Dee!

    • Reply greensideupveg September 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks Karen, though the credit should go to Ciaran for thinking up such a good idea 🙂

  • Reply Gardening Gifts: What Gardeners Really WantGreenside Up December 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    […] community garden and photographed both my and a couple of community gardeners hands, as part of the Hands That Change This Earth photographic project that he’s been working on. With that in mind it came as no surprise to […]

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