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Archives and Special Collections: The Common Ground Archive

Introduction to the Common Ground archive

Common Ground is an arts and environmental charity, which was founded in 1982 to celebrate the relationship between people and everyday places through arts and culture, as well as to empower people to care for their local environment. The charity has raised awareness of a variety of environmental issues through its innovative projects, which have involved public participation; the commissioning of new artistic works; the organisation of exhibitions, events and conferences; the launching of new calendar customs; and the publication of books, pamphlets, newsletters, leaflets and postcards. Many of the projects - in particular, 'Parish Maps', the ‘Campaign for Local Distinctiveness’ and 'Apple Day' - have proven to be highly sustainable, continuing long after Common Ground's active involvement in them ceased.

The Common Ground archive comprises a wide range of material created and collected by the charity in the course of its activities between 1982 and 2013, including project planning papers, correspondence, reports, financial papers, research material, press clippings, photographs, promotional material, and publications. The main section of the Common Ground relates to the charity's project work. This section is divided into 15 sub-sections, with each sub-section relating to a different project organised by the charity. This reflects the archive's original order and the way these records were used by the charity. The archive also includes sections relating to Common Ground's financial records and a library of publications and reference material. 

Between 2018 and 2020, a cataloguing project was undertaken at the University of Exeter Special Collections to make this archive more accessible to the public and open it up to new research [please note that due to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, some sections of the archive remain partially catalogued or uncatalogued and are not currently available to search online]. The archive has rich potential for interdisciplinary research in a wide range of areas, including environmental studies, geography, literature, visual arts and business studies.

Welcome to this LibGuide!

We hope this LibGuide will help you to navigate the Common Ground archive catalogue, answer some of your questions, and provide you with tips on where to look for more information. In this guide you will find:

- Information about the Common Ground archive catalogue

The main part of this guide provides information about the largest section of the Common Ground archive: material relating to the charity's project work (EUL MS 416/PRO). On the catalogue, this section is divided into 15 sub-sections, with each sub-section relating to a different project organised by Common Ground.

Below you will find tabbed boxes. Each tabbed box concerns a different sub-section. You will find the name of the project and the reference number for the sub-section in the title of each box. Click the different tabs to read descriptions of each project, a summary of archive material relating to each project, and information about how to access the material.

- Information on accessing and using the Common Ground archive

On the right hand side (or at the bottom, if you're using this guide on a mobile device) you will find answers to frequently asked questions, guidance on access, and guidance on copyright

- The latest updates about the Common Ground archive

On the right hand side (or at the bottom, if you're using this guide on a mobile device), you will also find links to our Common Ground Archive Project Blog and posts about the archive on Twitter. These include updates on the cataloguing project, information about the archive, and images of archive material.

Get in touch!

If you have any questions not answered in this LibGuide, require more information about the archive, or would like to make an appointment to consult material in the archive, you are very welcome to email the Special Collections team at libspc@exeter.ac.uk

Second Nature (EUL MS 416/PRO/1)

The main output of the Second Nature project was a book entitled 'Second Nature', comprising a collection of essays and artwork by 42 writers and artists who were invited by Common Ground to 'express their feelings about Britain's dwindling wild life and countryside' ('Second Nature', 1984). Richard Mabey commissioned the essays for the book, whilst Angela King and Sue Clifford commissioned the artwork. The book was edited by Richard Mabey with Susan (Sue) Clifford and Angela King, and published by Jonathan Cape in 1984. Three public seminars were held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1984 to discuss themes explored in 'Second Nature: 'Created Nature' (25 October); 'Who Owns Nature? Possession and Dispossession' (1 November); and 'Beyond the Golden Age' (8 November). The artwork featured in the book was exhibited, with the help of the Arts Council, at the Newlyn Orion Gallery in Penzance between 27 October and 20 November 1984, and subsequently travelled to other venues. A second exhibition of the artwork for 'Second Nature' took place at the London Ecology Centre between 11 July and 22 August 1985. 

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes: 

- correspondence with artists and writers;

- papers relating to the production of the book, including agreements and drafts;

- papers relating to the seminars held at the ICA;

- papers relating to the exhibition of artists' work;

- and several files of papers relating to Common Ground's collaboration with artist Andy Goldsworthy, in particular: his residency on Hampstead Heath (1985-1986) and exhibitions of his work.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue. 

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages. 

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Second Nature project!

Holding Your Ground (EUL MS 416/PRO/2)

The major output of the 'Holding Your Ground' project was a book entitled 'Holding Your Ground: an action guide to local conservation', which was co-authored by Angela King and Susan 'Sue' Clifford for Common Ground. It was first published by Maurice Temple Smith in 1985, and republished in 1987 by Wildwood House. The book included a foreword by David Bellamy, artwork by Tony Foster and Robin Tanner, and photography by Chris Baines, Ian Anderson, Ron Frampton, Sue Clifford and Angela King.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- drafts and proofs of 'Holding Your Ground';

- hardback and paperback editions of the book;

- book reviews;

- correspondence;

- and research material, including press clippings, correspondence and publications relating to local conservation.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue. 

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Holding Your Ground project!

New Milestones (EUL MS 416/PRO/3)

The New Milestones project was launched by Common Ground in 1986 to explore 'what places mean to the people who live in them, and...how to express that meaning in an imaginative and accessible way through sculpture' ('New Milestones: Sculpture, Community and the Land', 1988, p. 15). The aim of the project was to support local communities in commissioning a sculpture to celebrate and draw attention to an aspect of their local landscape, such as its history, topography, geology, natural history or people. The project involved close collaboration between Common Ground, local communities and craftspeople to create permanent works of art with significance for present and future inhabitants.

The pilot phase of the project took place in Dorset between 1985 and 1988, with Joanna Morland as the project officer based in Dorchester from 1986 onwards. The five sculptures commissioned in Dorset were: ‘Turning Point’ at Godmanstone by Christine Angus, ‘Entrance’ by Andy Goldsworthy at Hooke Park, ‘Chiswell Earthworks’ by John Maine on Portland, ‘Wayside Carvings’ by Peter Randall-Page near Lulworth Cove, and ‘Grains of Wheat’ on the Weld Estate by Simon Thomas. Later, the project was extended to Yorkshire, where it was managed by Steve Chettle of Cleveland Arts. Three commissions followed: for eight sculptures by Alain Ayers in Hilton; for ‘Masham Leaves’ by Alain Ayers in Masham; and for three cliff top sculptures by Richard Farrington at Huntcliff, which included the 'Circle'. The last sculpture commissioned as part of the New Milestones project was 'Riverside Sculptures' by Michael Fairfax in Waterrow, Somerset.

A conference (23 July 1988) and exhibition were held at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester between 16 July and 3 September 1988. The exhibition brought together photographs of all the sculptures commissioned and set in the Dorset landscapes. A book by Joanna Morland with an introduction by Sue Clifford and Angela King, entitled 'New Milestones: Sculpture, Community and the Land', was published in 1988.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- material relating to the administration of the New Milestones project, including project planning papers, correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, papers relating to funding of the project, artists' statements, legal documents concerning commissions, and papers relating to the 'New Milestones Index' of artists, sculptors and craftspeople.

- printed material relating to promotion and publicity of the project;

- and photographs of historic milestones, examples of sculptors' works, the New Milestones sculptures in progress, and the finished New Milestones sculptures.

 

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue. 

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages. 

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the New Milestones project!

Trees, Woods and the Green Man (EUL MS 416/PRO/4)

undefinedCommon Ground launched its 'Trees, Woods and the Green Man' project in 1986. The aim of the project was to raise awareness of the ecological and cultural importance of trees, and to provide people with information and ideas for involving themselves in celebrating and caring for trees. One year after the project was launched, a severe storm hit the UK: the Great Storm of 1987. Common Ground immediately began campaigning for people to let nature take its course and not to clean up too hastily. The charity worked with artist David Nash to publish thousands of free postcards with the idea that a fallen tree was not a dead tree.

The Trees, Woods and the Green Man project generated a number of events, including exhibitions ('The Tree of Life' in 1989, 'Out of the Woods' in 1989; 'Orchards of the South West' by James Ravilious in 1989, 'Leaves' by Andy Goldsworthy in 1989-1990); and a season of wood and tree related films and talks at the Tate Gallery in 1989. Common Ground also produced several tree-related publications, including an anthology of poetry entitled 'Trees Be Company' (1989 and 2001); a 'manifesto' for trees and a guide to growing and protecting them entitled 'In a Nutshell' (1990); and a special edition broadsheet newspaper 'Pulp!', which included contributions from celebrity authors, artists and cartoonists. Common Ground was also commissioned several sculptures inspired by woods and trees, as well as literary works, including 'Who Killed Prees Heath' by Eleanor Cooke, 'Home Ground' by Heather Harrison, 'Common Losses' by Bill Laws, and a play entitled 'The See-Saw Tree' by David Wood. In 1990, the project initiated a new calendar custom which it named 'Tree Dressing Day', with an intention for it to be celebrated annually on the first weekend of December. In 1989, the 'Trees, Woods and the Green Man' project won won the Prudential Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts, a prize of £25,000.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- papers relating to Tree Dressing Day, including correspondence, reports, press releases, photographs, research material, promotional material and press clippings;

- papers relating to exhibitions, including the 'Tree of Life', 'Out of the Woods: The Tree as Image and Symbol', and 'Leaves';

- paper relating to the Great Storm of 1987, including the exhibition 'Remembering the Great Storm’ by artist Garry Miller at the Natural History Museum in London;

- papers relating to Common Ground's work with artists including Graham Wattis, Gary Miller, Andy Goldsworthy, and David Nash, amongst others;

- papers relating to publications, including 'Leaves', 'Trees Be Company', 'In a Nutshell', and 'Pulp!;

- papers relating to sculptures and the commissioning of new sculptures;

- papers relating to poetry and literary commissions and competitions;

- papers relating to trees in poetry and literature;

- papers relating to trees in teaching and education;

- papers relating to the Prudential Awards for the Arts;

- promotional material, including postcards and leaflets;

- and press clippings, press releases, and other papers relating to publicity.

This sub-section of the archive has not been catalogued yet. You can find a general sub-section description on our online archives catalogue or request a more detailed box list from our Special Collections team.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to Tree Dressing Day!

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Parish Maps project (EUL MS 416/PRO/5)

The idea for the Parish Maps project grew out of Common Ground's book ‘'Holding Your Ground: an action guide to local conservation’', and work on the new project began soon after its publication in 1985. This project sought to encourage people to look around their local area, identify what is distinctive about it and what they value, and to then chart this on a map of their 'parish'. Common Ground considered parish maps to be 'a starting point for local action, they are demonstrative, subjective statements made by and for a community, exploring and showing what it cares about in its locality' (EUL MS 416/PRO/5/4/8, Common Ground pamphlet 'Parish Maps' (1996), p. 3).

Initially Common Ground selected eighteen well-known artists to create maps of their home parishes for the exhibition 'Knowing Your Place: an exhibition of artists' Parish Maps', which opened in March 1987 and toured to twelve venues across the UK. The artists were: Norman Ackroyd, Conrad Atkinson, Adrian Berg, Helen Chadwick, Hannah Collins, Garry Miller, Stephen Farthing, Tony Foster, Anthony Gormley, Pat Johns, Balraj Khanna, Simon Lewty, Ian Macdonald, David Nash, Roger Palmer, Judith Rugg, Len Tabner, and Stephen Willats. In 1987, Common Ground published two booklets entitled, 'Parish Maps' and 'The Parish Boundary', as well as a video and information pack produced together with ACRE entitled 'The Local Jigsaw'.

The Parish Maps project appeared to quickly capture the public's imagination and inspired the creation of thousands of parish maps by individuals and community groups across the UK, as well as several countries around the world. Common Ground offered advice to parish map makers, and information about new parish maps was sent to and collected by Common Ground. In 1996, the charity selected approximately 30 examples of peoples' parish maps to put on display in a national exhibition entitled 'from place to PLACE: an Exhibition of Peoples' Parish Maps'. It opened at The Barbican Centre in London, before going on tour to venues across the country. The exhibition led to the publication of a collection of essays entitled 'from place to PLACE: maps and Parish Maps' (1996).
 

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- assorted project administration papers relating to the Parish Maps project, including correspondence, publications, and press clippings;

- files relating to the making of peoples' parish maps, including correspondence, press clippings, and copies of parish maps (photocopies, prints, postcards, slides) sent to Common Ground by individuals and groups involved in making parish maps;

- files relating to exhibitions and events, including 'Knowing Your Place: an Exhibition of Artists' Parish Maps', 'from place to PLACE: an Exhibition of Peoples' Parish Maps', touring exhibitions, laminated panels exhibitions, slides packs, and a conference.

- Parish Maps publications and promotional material;

- photographic material;

- and publicity material and press clippings.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Parish Maps project!

Orchards (EUL MS 416/PRO/6)

In 1987, Common Ground began work on the Orchards project, also known as Common Ground's Campaign to Conserve Old Orchards and Plant New Ones. Sue Clifford and Angela King (Co-Directors of Common Ground), first became aware of the sharp decline in orchards within the UK whilst conducting research for the Trees, Woods and the Green Man project. They realised that, in addition to the ecological impact, this decline also signified a loss of associated cultural practices. The Orchards project aimed to promote the ecological and cultural importance of orchards, to campaign for orchards to be conserved and planted, and to revive interest in local fruit varieties.

Common Ground's Orchards project involved a number of different campaigns, initiatives, events, and publications. The two main campaigns were 'Save our Orchards' (launched in 1988) and 'Community Orchards' (launched in 1992). The 'Apple Day' initiative was introduced by Common Ground in 1990. A further initiative named 'Orchard Observances began in 1995. In the 1990s and 2000s, Common Ground encouraged schools to plant school orchards to use in environmental education. At the same time, Common Ground was involved in various local orchard initiatives around the country and supported many communities, groups and organisations who were also campaigning for orchards.

As conjunction with the Orchards project, Common Ground commissioned James Ravilious and Simon Canetty-Clarke to photograph orchards in the West Country and Kent in 1989 and 1990. These commissions resulted in two touring exhibitions. In 1999, an 'Orchards and Wild Life' conference was organised by Common Ground and English Nature. Several publications were produced by Common Ground as part of the Orchards project: a book entitled 'Orchards: a guide to local conservation' (1989), 'The Apple Source Book' (1991), an 'Apple Map' (1993), 'Apple Games and Customs' (1994), a one-off newspaper 'The Apple Broadcast', a book entitled 'The Common Ground Book of Orchards' (2000), and a book entitled 'The Community Orchards Handbook' (2008), as well as 'Orchard Advice' information sheets, leaflets and postcards.

Material in this section of the archive includes:

- files of assorted material relating to the administration of the Orchards project by Common Ground, including correspondence, project planning papers, financial papers, reports, meeting minutes, press releases, press clippings, manuscript project notes, and drafts of articles and talks;

- material relating to campaigns, initiatives and events launched and managed by Common Ground as part of the Orchards project, as well as material collected by Common Ground concerning orchard projects and events organised by other organisations and groups;

- files of correspondence from people around the country relating to orchards;

- research material, including 'Orchards Info' files, reports, and files of material relating to different subjects, such as orchards produce, wildlife and culture;

- press clippings and papers relating to publicity;

- and photographic material.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Flora Britannica (EUL MS 416/PRO/7)

Flora Britannica was a project launched by Richard Mabey with the support of Common Ground, which ran from 1992 to 1996. The project sought to discover the diversity and distribution of plantlife in Britain, as well as to record and explore the historical and contemporary associations and uses of plants, including information about customs, stories, recipes, remedies, and games. It had two aims: to produce a major book concerning the cultural flora of modern Britain, and to start a process of popular interest and activity at the local level, carried out by people all around the country. Invitations for people to send in their personal knowledge of local plants were circulated by national and local television and radio broadcasters, newspapers and magazines, and Common Ground received responses from individuals, organisations and groups all over Britain.

The major output of this project was Richard Mabey's encyclopedia of wild plants of the UK, which was entitled 'Flora Britannica' and published by Sinclair Stevenson in 1996. In addition to scientific botanical information, it recorded vernacular cultural information sent in by over 3,000 people from across the country. In addition, throughout 1994, 1995 and 1996, Common Ground encouraged people to reinforce and renew their affections for everyday plants through initiatives the charity named 'local floras', which included a pilot project in Northamptonshire. Other related publications published in the course of this project include two pamphlets in 1992 and 1995 entitled 'Flora Britannica: The Handbook' and 'Local Flora Britannica', as well as a Flora Britannica newsletter named 'Woodbine'.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- project administration files, including correspondence, project outlines, project proposals, project budgets, funding applications, job descriptions, reports, and notes;

- correspondence from members of the public sharing information on historic and contemporary popular associations and uses of local flora;

- papers relating to the Flora Britannica project and knowledge of local flora share by organisations, councils, schools, media outlets, and members of the public around the UK, including correspondence, press clippings, newsletters, photocopied book extracts, photographs, artwork, and leaflets.

- papers relating to the pilot project in Northamptonshire, which sought to encourage and initiate community-led projects which celebrate commonplace plants and trees;

- papers relating to publications and promotional material;

- and press clippings and publicity material.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about Flora Britannica archive material!

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Apple Day (EUL MS 416/PRO/8)

undefinedApple Day is a calendar custom that was launched by Common Ground in 1990 as a day of 'celebration and demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples but richness and diversity in landscape, place and culture too' ('An Introduction to the Deeds and Thoughts of Common Ground', 1990, p. 24). In 1987, Common Ground first became aware of the decline in orchards in Britain through research for the 'Trees Wood and the Green Man' project. As a response, in 1988, Common Ground launched the 'Save Our Orchards' campaign, and in 1990, Angela King proposed the idea of establishing a new calendar custom for the apple to raise further awareness of the loss of variety in our places and encourage people to take positive local action. Common Ground organised the very first Apple Day in the Piazza of Covent Garden on 21 October 1990.

In the 20 years that followed, Common Ground took on an advisory and promotional role, supporting the increasing number of local organisers in co-ordinating their Apple Day events. Apple Day events have been organised across the UK and beyond by individuals, parishes, councils, museums, pubs, restaurants, agricultural colleges, hospitals, wildlife trusts, arts centres, historic houses, schools, tree nurseries, markets, farms, and commercial and community orchards. Common Ground was actively involved in promoting and supporting events until 2010, the year in which the 21st Apple Day was celebrated and it officially had its 'coming of age'. At this point, Common Ground considered Apple Day to have become so firmly entrenched as a custom that it was capable of continuing without extra support from the charity. Apple Day continues to be celebrated in Britain on and around 21 October each year. In the course of the project, Common Ground published several books relating to apples, including: 'The Apple Source Book' (1991) and 'Apple Games and Customs' (1994), as well as an expanded version of 'The Apple Source Book' (2007). 

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- project administration files, including assorted files of correspondence, project planning papers, financial papers, reports, meeting minutes, press releases, press clippings, notes, and drafts of articles and talks;

- material relating to the planning of the first Apple Day in 1990, including planning papers, meeting minutes, booking forms, lists of stall holders, a plan of the Apple Day stalls in Covent Garden, feedback from stall holders, a report, promotional material, and press clippings;

- material relating to Apple Day events between 1991-2012, including correspondence between Common Ground and Apple Day event organisers, and event information forms and feedback forms completed by the event organisers;

- press clippings;

- promotional material, including posters, leaflets and postcards;

- and photographic material, including 35mm photographic slide transparencies and photographic prints.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about Apple Day archive material!

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The Campaign for Local Distinctiveness (EUL MS 416/PRO/9)

undefinedCommon Ground coined the idea of Local Distinctiveness to explore the relationship between people and everyday places, and the bonds between nature, identity and place ('Local Distinctiveness: Place, Particularity and Identity', 1993, p. 7). This concept was being developed by Common Ground from as early as 1985, and was a running theme throughout all of the charity's projects. The Campaign for Local Distinctiveness was officially launched on Earth Day, 22 April 1990, with a new leaflet suggesting '15 ways in which we might begin to recognise and reinforce local distinctiveness and resist the march of uniformity'.

In the course of the project, Common Ground researched and collected material relating to different aspects of Local Distinctiveness. In addition, Common Ground corresponded with councils, organisations, and individuals to further promote Local Distinctiveness as a basis for new local initiatives, policies and strategies. In 2002, the sub-project 'ABC: Learning to Read Your Locality' grew out of the campaign, which encouraged people to create alphabet guides to Local Distinctiveness in their localities.

Local Distinctiveness was promoted by Common Ground through several events and publications, including: flyers, leaflets and postcards; posters such as 'May Day May Day Nature's Call for Help' (1988) and 'Rules for Local Distinctiveness' (1992), which appeared as full-page adverts in 'The Independent'; a conference on Local Distinctiveness, which took place on 28 September 1993; and a collection of essays from the conference, which were published as a volume entitled 'Local Distinctiveness: Place, Particularity and Identity' (Common Ground, 1993). In 2002, Sue Clifford and Angela King began work on the book 'England in Particular: A celebration of the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive', which was published in 2006.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- general project administration files, including project proposals, planning papers, correspondence, press clippings, articles, interview transcripts, collected examples of Local Distinctiveness, and notes;

- material relating to promotional material and publications produced by Common Ground for the Campaign for Local Distinctiveness project, including pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, postcards, and posters;

- material relating to the ABC: Learning to Read Your Locality project, including project planning papers, promotional material, publicity material, correspondence, and examples of local alphabets that were sent to and collected by Common Ground;

- papers relating to conferences, including the Local Distinctiveness conference;

- papers relating to Common Ground's collaboration with local authorities to encourage the implementation of landscape management and environmental strategies that respects and supports Local Distinctiveness, including reports, consultation papers, strategies, correspondence, notes, promotional material, and questionnaires.

- material relating to several Local Distinctiveness projects relating to geological variation and the creation of sculptural works from rock, including 'Geology and Local Distinctiveness', 'Revealing the Geology', 'People's Geology Map', and projects with the sculptor Peter Randall-Page and photographer Chris Chapman;

- press clippings and publicity material;

- research material relating to Local Distinctiveness, which was collected by Common Ground during the course of the Campaign for Local Distinctiveness project;

- and photographic material relating to the Local Distinctiveness project, including 35mm slide transparencies.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Campaign for Local Distinctiveness!

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Gardening, Landscape Design and Local Distinctiveness (EUL MS 416/PRO/10

undefinedThe Gardening, Landscape Design and Local Distinctiveness project grew out of Common Ground's Campaign for Local Distinctiveness, and ran for approximately five years between 1992 and 1997. The aim was to promote a style of gardening that was sensitive to the distinctive qualities of the given place, for example its soil type, native species, local architecture, and history. In 1995, Common Ground published a pamphlet entitled 'The Art of Gentle Gardening: Thoughts on Linking Plants, People and Places' to share 'ideas on how we can link plants, people and place, reweaving culture and nature to make a difference'. 

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- correspondence;

- reports;

- papers relating to the publication and design of 'The Art of Gentle Gardening: Thoughts on Linking Plants, People and Places' pamphlet, including artwork for the pamphlet by artist Stephen Turner;

- papers relating to talks and conferences;

- press releases, press clippings and papers relating to publicity;

- and notes and research material.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Gardening, Landscape Design and Local Distinctiveness project!

Field Days (EUL MS 416/PRO/11)

The Field Days project was launched in 1995 to highlight the historical, cultural and social importance of fields, to celebrate their contribution to local distinctiveness, and to encourage people to take a more active role in their conservation. A variety of publications were produced by Common Ground as part of the Field Days project, including postcards; leaflets ('1. Conservation, celebration and the meaning of names' (1995) and '2. Owning and Leasing Fields for Community Use' (1996); pamphlets ('A Manifesto for Fields' (1997) and 'Field Days: Ideas for Investigations and Celebration' (1997); and a book entitled 'Field Days: An Anthology of Poetry' (1998).

A major initiative of the project was to highlight and uncover the variety of field names in the UK, and to encourage people to research, restore and celebrate the field names in their local areas. In July 1996, Common Ground was commissioned by the Department of the Environment to produce a laminated panel exhibition on the subject of Field Days for the Royal Agricultural Show, which was subsequently available for hire. In addition, Common Ground launched a Field Days poetry competition in partnership with Blue Nose Poetry, and collaborated with theatre groups, writers, poets, artists, craftspeople, photographers, and local communities to explore different ways of engaging with the diverse stories a field might tell.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- assorted papers relating to the administration of the Field Days project, including correspondence, project outlines and project planning papers; project reports; funding applications; papers relating to Field Days publications produced by Common Ground, including drafts; papers relating to field names; papers relating to field events; and research material press clippings, and notes;

- promotional material and publications produced by Common Ground for the Field Days project, including flyers, postcards, leaflets, press releases, pamphlets and books, as well as papers concerning the content, design and printing of publications;

- papers relating to the Field Days panel exhibition, which was first displayed at the Royal Agricultural Show in 1996 and subsequently went on tour and was available for hire;

-  papers relating to the Field Days poetry competition in 1997, which was organised by Common Ground in collaboration with Blue Nose Poetry;

- material relating to arts initiatives concerning fields and the Field Days project, including responses from artists interested in being involved in the Field Days project and wishing to be added to Common Ground's 'of visual and performing artists, craftspeople and photographers who are interested in expressing and celebrating / documenting the cultural significance of the field in the British landscape';

- press clippings and material relating to publicity of the Field Days project, including promotional material, summaries of press coverage, correspondence, and two cassette tape audio recordings of radio interviews;

- research material relating to fields, including field names and scarecrows; 

- and 18 slide storage sheets containing 35mm photographic slide transparencies relating to the Field Days project.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Rhynes, Rivers and Running Brooks (EUL MS 416/PRO/12)

undefinedFrom the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s, Common Ground conducted research and activity relating to rivers for its Rhynes, Rivers and and Running Brooks project. The project aimed to encourage people to value running water in their localities and get involved in its conservation through publications, events, and exhibitions. As part of this programme of work, Common Ground also aspired to launch the project 'Thames Ballad' to help people in London to create an epic poem about the relationship between people and water in the city. However, this project never came to fruition. Much of the research and planning for the 'Thames Ballad' project later fed into the 'Confluence' project.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- assorted files of material relating to the Rhynes, Rivers and Running Brooks project, including correspondence, project planning papers, reports, publications, and press clippings;

- papers relating to 'The Tidal Thames - a ballad for the river / a voice for the people' project planned by Common Ground during the 1990s, but which never came to fruition;

- papers concerning the research for and publication of an anthology of poetry about rivers, published under the titled 'The River's Voice: An Anthology of Poetry' by Green Books in 2000, as well as copies of publications and promotional material produced for the project;

- papers relating to the poetry competition presented by Blue Nose Poets and Common Ground in 1999, which invited poems abut springs, streams and rivers;

- and research material relating to rivers and water.

The sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about the Rhynes, Rivers and Running Brooks project!

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Confluence (EUL MS 416/PRO/13)

undefinedThe Confluence project was born out of the Rhynes, Rivers and and Running Brooks proejct, which Common Ground launched in the mid-1990s. Confluence was a three-year project from 1998 to 2001 to enable, develop and encourage the creation of new music for the River Stour, from the river's source in Wiltshire, through Somerset and Dorset, and into the English Channel at Christchurch. The project was predominantly funded by a grant from the Arts for Everyone (A4E) scheme of the Arts Lottery.

The main focus of the project was the organisation and delivery of a series of participatory music workshops, courses, concerts and events involving people living in the River Stour catchment area. The purpose was to draw people together to share local knowledge, and explore and express their emotional connection to the Stour through music. Helen Porter, the Music Animateur, was active in bringing people together to sing, write and perform, and Karen Wimhurst, the Composer-in-Residence, composed a range of original new works for the project. 

This sub-section of the archive comprises a wide range of material relating to the research, planning, funding, administration, promotion, and execution of the project. It includes:

- assorted material relating to the administration of the Confluence project in general;

- material relating to a variety of projects, events and workshops that took place as part of the Confluence project;

- sheet music and lyrics for music composed or performed in the duration of the project;

- papers relating to the financing and funding of the Confluence project, including Common Ground's funding bid to Arts for Everyone (A4E) scheme and 12 project progress reports compiled for A4E;

- research material relating to rivers, water and the River Stour catchment area (Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire);

- press clippings and material produced by Common Ground to promote Confluence events and the Confluence project, including bookmarks, postcards, flyers, posters, leaflets, concert programmes, newsletters, and press releases;

- prints, negatives and 35mm slide transparencies of photographs taken of Confluence activities and events, as well as places and bodies of water in the Stour catchment (Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset);

- and 12 CDs of recordings of Confluence musical performances.

The sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about the Confluence project!

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England in Particular (EUL MS 416/PRO/14)

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The England in Particular project grew out of Common Ground's Campaign for Local Distinctiveness and was concerned with the creation of an encyclopedia of commonplace and vernacular culture. In 2002, Common Ground received a £80,000 grant from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to fund the project. The project was launched with a campaign in 2002 that encouraged people to contact Common Ground with their local knowledge.

To publicise the campaign, Common Ground created the website 'www.england-in-particular.info' with the help of the Countryside Agency. The finished book, entitled 'England in Particular: A celebration of the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive', became the largest single publication produced by Common Ground.

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- papers relating to the publication process of 'England in Particular: A celebration of the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive', including correspondence with artists, publishers, readers, media outlets, and funders; papers relating to the sourcing of illustrations for the book, including artists' briefs, reference material for artists, and illustration proofs; promotional postcards and posters; book proposals and planning documents; papers relating to publicity and sales of the book; papers relating to the England in Particular web pages; and book proofs;

- research material that was collected by Common Ground and referred to by the authors of 'England in Particular' before, during and after the writing of the book, mostly arranged into lever arch files alphabetically by subject; 

- and publicity material and press clippings relating to the England in Particular project.

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the England in Particular project!

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Producing the Goods (EUL MS 416/PRO/15)

Common Ground worked on the Producing the Goods project between 2005 and 2007. The aim of the project was to promote and campaign for local and sustainable production and consumption of goods, including food and drink, markets and market produce, and souvenirs.

The main output of the project was the publication of three pamphlets: 'Goods that reflect and sustain locality, nature and culture' (2005), 'Markets and Market Places' (2006), and 'Souvenirs in Particular' (2007). In addition, Common Ground launched a ‘Souvenirs in Particular’ campaign to encourage the production of locally distinctive and locally manufactured souvenirs.

 

Material in this sub-section of the archive includes:

- papers relating to the publication of three 'Producing the Goods' pamphlets;

- papers relating to Common Ground's campaign for locally distinctive and sustainable souvenirs;

- research material relating to local souvenirs, foods, markets, and sustainable buildings;

- and a collection of local souvenirs and products. 

This sub-section of the archive has been catalogued and you can find descriptions of individual files on our online archives catalogue.

Material in the Common Ground archive is available for consultation in our reading room by advance appointment (we ask for at least 24 hours' notice). You can contact the Special Collections team for more information and to make an appointment at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. More information about visiting us can be found on our webpages.

Check out our blog post about archive material relating to the Producing the Goods project!

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FAQs

Has the Common Ground archive been catalogued?

Yes! Between 2018 and 2020, a project took place at the University of Exeter Special Collections to catalogue and make this archive more accessible. The majority of the archive has now been catalogued at file level and is available to search on our online archives catalogue. Please note that due to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, some sections of the archive remain partially catalogued or uncatalogued and are not currently available to search online. However, a PDF list of the files for these sections can be made available on request.

How can I search the Common Ground archive catalogue online?

If you're new to using archive catalogues, we would recommend first taking a look at our LibGuide on Searching for Archives and Rare Books on our catalogues, which provides lots of useful tips to guide you through the process. 

The majority of the Common Ground archive can be searched via our online archives catalogue. To get a good overview of the different material you can find in the archive, click on each individual section, series and file in the tree and read the descriptions. If you're looking for something specific, such as a report on the Confluence project, go to the Advanced Search page, type the reference number for the relevant sub-section e.g. EUL MS 416/PRO/13* (remember to add a * at the end) in the 'Ref No' field and type report into the 'Any text' field. 

Our top tip for searching the Common Ground archive is to also try searching for a project or item across the whole archive. Many of Common Ground's projects overlapped chronologically and thematically, so you will often find material relating to a particular project across several different sub-sections. You can search the entire archive by going to the Advanced Search page, typing the collection reference number - EUL MS 416* (don't forget to add a * at the end) - into the 'Ref no' field and a particular project - e.g. Parish Maps - into the 'Any text' field. This may result in a large number of results, but this will give you the best possible overview of all material relating to that particular project.

Are any images from the archive available online?

Yes! A small selection of images of Common Ground archive material have been made available through our Project Blog and our Twitter page. You can also find images from lots of Common Ground's projects on the Common Ground website. 

Where can I find images of Parish Maps online?

We are currently unable to digitise copies of Parish Maps and make these available online, as these are subject to a variety of complex copyright restrictions. However, images of a selection of Parish Maps are available via the Common Ground website.

Are there any plans to digitise the archive?

We are currently working with the Digital Humanities Lab at the University of Exeter to digitise audio cassette tapes and floppy disks in order to make these accessible for research in our reading room. However, at the present time we have no further plans to digitise the archive. 

Guidance on Access

Everyone is welcome to access the Common Ground archive.

Advice and guidance on how to access to the Common Ground archive can be provided by our Special Collections team. If you would like to consult items from the archive, please contact us at libspc@exeter.ac.uk at least 24 hours in advance of your visit.

As the archive comprises records created and collected between 1982 and 2013, many files in the Common Ground archive contain personal data (information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual) such as addresses and telephone numbers. Access to these files may be closed or restricted. In most cases, access can be provided on condition that a 'Reader Undertaking concerning Access to Archive Collections that would otherwise be Closed (Data Protection)' form is signed and abided by.

Guidance on Copyright

We would like the Common Ground archive to be as accessible as possible to everyone, but at the same time we have to respect the rights of the record creators. Many of the records in the Common Ground archive are held under the copyright of the charity Common Ground. However, the archive also contains works (including letters, artwork, copies of artwork, photographs) created by other individuals, groups, communities and institutions, who hold the copyright to these records. This includes any images of Parish Maps in the archive.

Archival copying is done on a case-by-case basis in consultation with senior Special Collections staff and is dependent on copyright restrictions, the condition/nature of the item concerned, and the size of the order. If you wish to take photographs of any material in the Common Ground archive with a digital camera during your visit to the reading room, please contact the Special Collections team for guidance before your visit by emailing us at libspc@exeter.ac.uk. If permission is granted, all images are for private research only. Please note that to make copies of literary and artistic works - including images of Parish Maps - you will require prior permission from the copyright holder.

Should you wish to reproduce, quote or publish quotations or images of any material in the Common Ground archive, written consent for publication must first be obtained from the copyright holder and then from Special Collections.

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