Seeing the South Downs in a different light

Red Earth installation

We've commissioned South Downs based artists Red Earth to create three interconnected installations, The South Country, evoking the diverse landscapes of the South Downs – chalk grassland, heath, wood, wildflower meadows and coastal cliffs at this year’s BBC Countryfile Live.

You’ll be able to immerse yourself in the landscape; listening to the sound of skylarks, losing yourself in a wildflower grassland as well as enjoying heath, woodland and farmland. The South Downs is one of our priority nature projects for the next decade where we’ll be doing lots to protect this important landscape and the wildlife that live there.

The Sanctuary: Chalk, grass and sea

Ditchling Beacon, Devils Dyke, Wolstonbury Hill, Harting Down, New Timber Hill 

A greenwood enclosure made from materials native to the South Downs, reflecting the classic downland landscape from the grassland to the sea. Here you can take a rest from the bustle of the festival and soak up the sounds and atmosphere of the South Downs as you sit amidst chalk grassland wildflowers surrounding a tranquil dew pond.  

Many people don't realise chalk grassland is not a ‘natural’ landscape but created by centuries of human activity. Much of the wildlife of chalk grassland is unable to withstand the results of agricultural intensification and human intervention.

The Grove: Heath and wood

Black Down Heath, Marley Common, Woolbeding Common, Lavington Common

Walk into a woodland space of tall stands of ash and birch, carpeted with heathers: a workplace for traditional heathland skills. You will have the opportunity to learn how to use birch bark, bramble and nettle for weaving and making.

Like chalk grassland, heathland is a human made habitat created by clearing in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. However 80 per cent has been lost in the South East since 1800 through neglect and woodland plantations. Heathland provides a home to a wide range of rare plants and creatures, but without human intervention to keep the heath open, this rare habitat returns to scrub.

The Fold: Chalk downland and farming

Saddlescoombe Farm, Gaston Farm, Swan Barn Farm

Come and work with artists using fleece from the Saddlescoombe farm sheep with activities including wool carding and wet felting. These help us make the historical connection between sheep farming and the formation of the South Downs landscape as we know it today, with its unique ecology including Chalkland Blue Butterflies.

A curved enclosure of woven greenwood suggests both a sheepfold and a traditionally laid Sussex hedge reflecting our aim to encourage farmers to create more hedgerows to increase biodiversity.

Who are Red Earth?

Based in the South Downs National Park, Red Earth create site-specific installations and performances in the landscape. 

Red Earth have worked with geologists, archaeologists and ecologists in Europe, Java, Japan and Mongolia, bringing people together in participatory events that explore our natural and cultural heritage, transforming our understanding of the places where we live.

The South Country follows GENIUS LOCI, celebrating Capability Brown’s Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, and winner of the Hudson’s Heritage Award for best event/exhibition 2017.

A view over the sloping purple heather at Black Down towards the distant horizon, with tall pine trees to either side.

South Downs 

Wild coast, stunning wildlife, remarkable history - enjoy the top spots in Britain's newest National Park.